I just clicked through nearly 40 pages of google image results looking for one good image of an arborvitae hedge. That I found none, is my first piece of damning evidence in a little rant about hedging.
I’m just not a fan of the “Arborvitae hedge”.
The expectation is this:
(never-mind that neither of these are arborvitae, they are, in fact, yew…but I found them under arborvitae in google results)
and the reality is this (at best):
I suppose arborvitae is fine if you want a hedge with holes, no uniformity across the sides, and inconsistent heights. Add to it a general inability to recover from common winter burn and you have a recipe for crap hedge.
I know I am shaking the tree here, but the common mislabeling (on many a landscaper website) is leading me to believe there is a bit of overselling going on in the landscape industry – which might explain why there are far too many dumb looking arborvitae wannabe hedges in (at least my corner of) the world.
Arborvitaes do not equal Taxus, (or boxwood, or myrtle) and I for one am quite tired of the depressing results that are achieved with them when put in as hedges.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually like the arborvitae plant, either when used interestingly, or of interesting variety. Take the stout, chubby variety of Berkmans Golden Arborvitae. Their happy rotund nature and fresh color would be a welcome addition to many planting schemes but as a hedge, I think they would look like a bunch of flabby soldiers who clearly aren’t cut out for their job.
The thujas that are commonly recommended for hedges go by the names of ‘Green Giant’, ‘Nigra’ and ‘Emerald Green’ (to name a few)….but here is the big secret here….this is their general form: A Cone. (love it or leave it, but don’t plan to change it…you have little chance of getting smooth square hedge from this)
Cone shaped can be very nice – and can even provide some screening, but I think they look best when clumped together (not in a straight line) or when they stand in a zig zag fashion. I most like to see them interspersed with other plants. Ultimately, they are a little like people; they all carry their chub in slightly different places. If you use a little distraction, they can all look consistent and cohesive, but if you line them up, you suddenly highlight their differences.
And speaking of differences….I have another little arborvitae rant. It seems that the word “arborvitae” has become synonymous with ‘green cone that you plant along the edges of your property or as a “foundation plant” .
You can’t just throw around the word ‘arborvitae’ and expect people to know what you are talking about. There are hundreds of very different, interesting and exciting ‘arborvitae’; it is worth exploring some other more unique varieties. Here are a few of my favorites:
6 More Interesting Hedging Shrubs (That are all Thuja)
- Thuja plicata “Emerald” clipped spirals
- Thuja plicata Whipcord,
- Thuja Occidentalis Sherwood Frost Folia
- Thuja occidentalis Degroots Spire
- Thuja Danica
- Thuja plicata daniellow
And to give you a few ideas about how to use the ‘Green Giant’ and it’s similar friends (in a good way), here is a little gallery.
Thuja mixed with Redbud trees
Thuja to draw you down a snaking path.
A grove of thuja.
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