The Urban Hedgerow
It’s fun to know what other people are doing in their gardens. Maybe it’s the dirt nerd in me liking to compare my weekend gardening adventures with others, but never-the-less, I enjoy it. My friend, Sandy, has a Southern Living-style garden. It belongs in the magazine,and she spends so much of her time rearranging her plants. She moves plants like most people move furniture, and she has a weed radar like nobody’s business. Unlike her garden, my garden is in the making and my gardening style is very different.
My home is located on a corner lot. To provide some privacy, I am creating an urban hedgerow (click here for the back story) that will be tightly planted with a variety of native and adaptive trees and shrubs that are wildlife friendly.
I started with a blank slate…a giant lawn of not-so-nice Bermuda grass punctuated with two Japanese maples that apparently fell out of the sky and landed in very odd places.
I declared war on the Bermuda grass last summer and began the removal process (chemical free) and building soil. In an earlier post, I described some ways to get rid of the grass from Hell, but I will tell you right here and now that the only step in this process with which I had success was tilling. I tilled three times; raking and digging up Bermuda grass pieces and roots thoroughly between each pass. It was a huge job!
I then set about building some good soil with inches and inches of mulch (see what I used here) and in the fall I added inches and inches of leaves. (see this post) The result? Wonderful soil full of earthworms!
I modified my original plan to give a shape to the lawn. Ultimately I would like to reduce the grass to zero, but until then giving the lawn a shape defined the hedgerow. (see this post for lawn shapes) Because my house is located on a corner lot and the lines of the driveway and sidewalks are irregular, I used the house position to shape the lawn. All the lines of the lawn are parallel or perpendicular to the house giving some order to the otherwise chaotic layout.
Here you can see the shape of the lawn.
I began to add trees and shrubs to the hedgerow last fall and continued this spring. It’s going to look a little strange at first, but as the plants mature and fill in, the hedgerow will become apparent.
Currently the hedgerow now consists of:
- (2) Red maple (Acer rubrum ‘October Glory’)
- (2) Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida ‘Cherokee Princess’)
- (2) Japanese maple (existing)
- (1) Deodar cedar (Cedrus deodara ‘Patti Faye’)
- (1) Emerald Green arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Emerald’)
- (1) American Pillar arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘American Pillar’)
- (1) Degroots Spire arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Degroots Spire’)
- (1) Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana ‘Burkii’)
- (1) Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus
- (4) Fothergilla (Fothergilla ‘Mount Airy’)
- (2) Arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum
- (3) Shasta viburnum (Viburnum plicata f. tomentosum
- (3) Texas red quince (Chaenomeles japonica ‘Texas Scarlet’)
- (3) Sweetspire (Itea virginica ‘Henry’s Garnett’)
- (4) Goldenrod (Solidago)
- (4) Inkberry holly (Ilex galbra ‘Shamrock’
A few of the trees and shrubs are starting to bloom. There are two of these flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida ‘Cherokee Princess). This native, unlike its alien cousin Cornus Kousa, supports a wide variety of insects.
Fothergilla (Fothergilla ‘Mount Airy’) is quickly becoming one of my favorite shrubs with these wonderful puffy, white spring flowers and great fall color.
Shasta viburnum (Viburnum plicata f. tomentosum) grows tall and very wide–great for the hedgerow planting. It is an adaptive plant that produces spring white flowers and then red summer berries that turn black. It seems to be a favorite of some birds.
The Texas red quince (Chaenomeles japonica ‘Texas Scarlet’) is another adaptive with early spring flowers.
Gardens are made up of layers and as time goes by I will be adding to the hedgerow filling in with perennials and groundcovers. The native violets (Viola sororia) are spreading in other beds and would make a good choice for groundcover in the hedgerow.
An urban hedgerow, made up of a diverse group of plantings, acts as a wildlife refuge. It is a place in our urban landscapes that provide the necessities of life…food and shelter. It is one way to invite wildlife into your garden while adding beauty and privacy.
For more information on the benefits to adding a hedgerow to your garden see:
- Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens
- Hedgerows for Biodiversity
- The Metropolitan Field Guide