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Child and Pet Friendly Hedges

Child and Pet Friendly Hedges

By Stephanie Pratt, InstantHedge
Photographs courtesy of Instant Hedge

Many homeowners turn to hedges to create a private, safe space for their children and/or pets to play. Unfortunately, many of the most popular hedge options, like cherry laurel hedges and yew hedges, are toxic and bear fruits that can be tempting to some budding epicures and pets who like to scavenge.

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Here is a list of five nontoxic hedges that provide privacy without adding any stress on parents or pet owners:

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  1. European Beech (Fagus sylvatica) makes a gorgeous hedge and has been a popular hedging plant for centuries. It has beautiful fall color but holds its rust-colored leaves through the winter to provide year-round screening. It is very low maintenance and rewarding to grow. Hardy to USDA Zone 4. Full sun to full shade. Deer resistant. Moderate growth rate. Prune twice per year.

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  1. Emerald Green Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’) is a very popular tree that makes a wonderfully dense, bright green hedge. It has soft evergreen foliage, so you will have the same screening capabilities in winter as you do in summer. Hardy to USDA Zone 3. Full sun to light shade. Moderate growth rate. Prune once per year.

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  1. Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas) makes a unique hedge with an added benefit: edible fruits that make delicious jam! It is deciduous, so you will have bare branches in winter, but in summer you will have lush, green foliage and bright red fruits. The fruit is not very tasty raw but makes a flavorful, almost effervescent jam or jelly! Hardy to USDA Zone 5. Full sun to partial shade. Moderate growth rate. Prune once per year. 

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  1. Teton Firethorn (Pyracantha sp. ‘Teton’) is an evergreen hedge with the added bonus of providing security with its sharp thorns. It bears beautiful clouds of white flowers in late spring followed by plentiful orange berries that persist through winter. The berries are edible but not delicious. This spiny hedge will help train kids, pets, and people outside to respect boundaries. Hardy to USDA Zone 6. Full sun to shade. Moderately fast growth rate. Prune once per year.

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  1. Flame Amur Maple (Acer ginnala ‘Flame’) is a deciduous hedge with incredible fall color (hence the name). It grows quickly and provides a solid, leafy wall of privacy in summer. It is a naturally multi-stemmed maple and forms a great thicket for privacy in the spring, summer, and fall. The autumn hues range from gold to orange to flaming red. Hardy to USDA Zone 3. Full sun to partial shade. Fast growth rate. Prune once or twice per year.

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