By Stephanie Pratt, InstantHedge
Photographs courtesy of Instant Hedge
Many popular hedges are deciduous, with a lovely fall color display, and some may even hold their dormant leaves throughout the winter for added screening (like European beech). Still, for full, thick winter privacy your best bet is an evergreen hedge. Some evergreens go off color in winter, but the list below contains the best hedges to pick for optimum winter color and interest.
Emerald Green Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd'), as the name implies, is prized for its gorgeous bright green color year-round. Many varieties of Thuja occidentalis develop a brown/bronze look in cold months, but Emerald Green is consistently beautifully vibrant. It also grows in a narrow, upright shape, so it is low maintenance as far as pruning is concerned. It is hardy to USDA Zone 3, making it one of the most cold-tolerant hedge types available on the market. It is extremely popular.
English Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) has glossy green foliage, giving a lively look to winter gardens. It is fast growing, making it suitable for growing into a large hedge. Regular pruning creates dense growth that provides excellent privacy as well as a habitat for birds and small animals. It is hardy to USDA Zone 6 and does well in coastal climates. It is also highly deer-resistant.
Teton Firethorn (Pyracantha) is a quick-growing evergreen hedge with leaves that look similar to boxwood. It boasts bright orange berries to provide color for winter landscapes. Birds enjoy the fruit, but the sharp thorns keep deer at a distance. In early summer the abundant white flowers attract swarms of pollinators. It is hardy to USDA Zone 6.
Hicks Yew (Taxus x 'Hicksii') has beautifully dense foliage and a narrow, upright growth habit. It does not do well in waterlogged soil, but thrives in well-drained areas. It bears bright red "fruit" in fall through winter that provides food for birds. The needles are a dramatic dark green. Yew has been a favorite for hedges in Europe for centuries. Hicks Yew is hardy to USDA Zone 5 and responds well to pruning.
Portuguese Laurel (Prunus lusitanica) is a great choice for warmer, coastal climates. It has beautiful, dark green pointed leaves that provide an almost tropical feel. The stems are cherry red when they first emerge, darkening to a deep mahogany as they age. It grows quickly with a very dense habit and would be easy to maintain at anywhere from 4' to 12' tall. It is hardy to USDA Zone 6b and is very deer-resistant.
All of these hedges can be planted either as individual trees, which will take four to five years to mature, or as pre-finished InstantHedges, which can now be purchased online from Conifer Kingdom.
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