They create privacy, disguise unattractive views or act as sound barriers. I’m talking about hedges, and they’re a great addition to any garden, provided they’re chosen thoughtfully.

A good hedge has three characteristics: fast-growing, evergreen, dense foliage. Flowers or fruit are welcome additions, but not absolutely necessary. Of course, drought-tolerance, low-maintenance, and non-invasiveness are equally important characteristics.

Along mostly shaded fence lines, try:

  • Viburnums – Although species and cultivars abound, V. tinus, V. suspensum and Viburnum X ‘Lord Byron’ are best for San Antonio’s climate.
  • Hollies – The only native evergreen holly is the yaupon holly and depending on the desired height, you can use either standard or dwarf varieties. Recommended non-native cultivars are Burford holly, Foster holly, and Nellie R. Stevens holly.
  • Pittosporum – The older I get the more I respect this broadleaf shrub’s ability to hang tough in all sorts of weather.

Along mostly sunny fence lines, consider:

  • Junipers – One of the most drought-tolerant and pest-resistant species we have. Recommended varieties are cultivars from Juniperus chinensis, including ‘Bluepoint,’ Hollywood,’ ‘Keteleer,’ ‘Robusta Green,’ and ‘Spartan’.
  • Indian hawthorn – ‘Majestic Beauty’ is the only real choice here.
  • Xylosma – An old-fashioned choice, but a species that tolerates all soil conditions.

You probably noticed I didn’t mention ligustrums. Although I give wax-leaf an occasional pass, Japanese ligustrums are invasive and are best removed from your plant palette. As far as maintenance goes, all species mentioned prefer well-drained, neutral soil. Water infrequently and deeply, and maintain 2 inches of mulch over the root system.

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