'Bright 'n' Tight' Carolina cherry laurel is ideal for a formal screen because the small leaves look good even after being clipped.
Terry suggested using Carolina cherry laurel (Prunus caroliniana) for the screen. This shrub is perfectly content with the given growing conditions and satisfies the homeowners' other requirements. The selection 'Bright 'n' Tight' Carolina cherry laurel is a versatile, hardy plant with dense foliage that can take heat, drought, and wind. While it will grow faster in full sun, it can thrive in partial sun and, therefore, won't require as much trimming. It can also take a variety of pruning techniques, either formal or informal, giving the Jacksons some options in the future.
They planted full-grown shrubs to give their yard a finished look and provide an enclosed space for their children to play. Then they pruned them back to create an instant solid screen from the street. While it would have been cheaper to use smaller plants and let them grow in, the Jacksons felt their needs merited a full-grown hedge.
The maintenance is minimal. A yearly topdressing of compost and some watering during the dry months keep the shrubs happy. Twice a year, they trim the laurels at a slight angle, keeping the bottom of the hedge a little wider than the top to make sure the bottom gets enough light to continuously produce healthy new foliage.
Create the Best Hedge
- Use stakes and flagging tape to get a sense of how large the screen needs to be.
- A tall screen far from the house won't block the view from inside but will still provide privacy.
- Close to the house, a tall hedge can make you feel claustrophobic and prevent light from getting in. Use gaps or fluctuations in the height of the screen to limit this problem. Creating a door or windows in the hedge also helps.
- Don't put a tall-growing shrub under a window, or you'll be pruning unnecessarily for years to come.
- Use a tall hedge around a large yard and a shorter one around a smaller yard to create an appropriately scaled design.
Good Plants for a Clipped Hedge
- 'Bright 'n' Tight' Carolina cherry laurel (Prunus caroliniana 'Bright 'n' Tight') US, MS, LS, CS
- Burford holly (Ilex cornuta) US, MS, LS
- English boxwood (Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruticosa) US, MS, LS
- English yews (Taxus baccata) US, MS
- glossy abelia (Abelia x grandiflora) US, MS, LS, CS, TS
- Japanese holly (I. crenata) US, MS, LS, CS, TS
- littleleaf boxwood (B. microphylla) US, MS, LS, CS, TS
- wintergreen barberry (Berberis julianae) US, MS, LS, CS, TS
"Living Screens" is from the May 2004 issue of Southern Living.