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A Guide to Training Shrubs into Beautiful Hedges

Step by Step

Creating a well-manicured hedge is an excellent way to add structure, privacy, and aesthetic appeal to your garden or landscape. While many types of plants are suitable for hedging, shrubs offer a versatile and natural choice. This comprehensive guide will explore training a shrub into a hedge, including specific shrub options like Carolina Allspice, Forsythia, Weigela, Witch Hazel, and Northern Spice Bush.

Step 1: Choosing the Right Shrub

Selecting the suitable plant species is the first crucial step in training a shrub into a hedge. Not all shrubs are ideal for hedging, so consider height, growth rate, foliage density, and climate compatibility factors. Here are five shrubs known for their hedge-worthy characteristics:

  1. Carolina Allspice (Calycanthus floridus): This deciduous shrub is prized for its fragrant, dark red-brown flowers and lush green foliage. It can reach a 6-9 feet height and is well-suited to hedges in U.S.D.A. zones 5-9.
  2. Forsythia (Forsythia spp.): Forsythia, with its bright yellow spring blooms, is a popular choice for early-flowering hedges. It grows rapidly, reaching 6-10 feet high, and is ideal for U.S.D.A. zones 4-9.
  3. Weigela (Weigela spp.): Known for its trumpet-shaped flowers in various colors, Weigela makes an attractive hedge. It can grow to 6-10 feet and thrives in U.S.D.A. zones 4-8.
  4. Witch Hazel (Hamamelis spp.): Witch Hazel is admired for its unique late-winter to early-spring blooms and vibrant fall foliage. It typically grows to 6-12 feet and is suitable for U.S.D.A. zones 3-9.
  5. Northern Spice Bush (Lindera benzoin): This native shrub features aromatic foliage and vibrant yellow flowers in early spring. The northern spicebush can grow up to 9 feet tall and is well-suited for U.S.D.A. zones 4-9.

Step 2: Site Selection and Preparation

Once you've chosen the appropriate shrub for your hedge, it's time to plan the location. Ensure the selected site receives adequate sunlight, as most of these shrubs prefer full sun to part shade. Well-drained soil is essential for healthy growth.

  • Clear the area of weeds, debris, and unwanted vegetation.
  • Dig a trench along the planting area, approximately 2 feet wide and 1 foot down.
  • Amend the soil using organic matter, such as compost, to improve fertility and drainage.

Step 3: Planting

Proper planting is critical to establishing a healthy shrub hedge. Follow these steps to ensure success:

  • Remove the shrubs from their containers or prepare bare-root shrubs according to the packaging instructions.
  • Space the shrubs according to the height at maturity, typically 2-4 feet apart.
  • Place the shrubs in the trench, ensuring the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface.
  • Backfill the trench with soil and water thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots.

Step 4: Pruning and Training

Regular pruning and training are essential to encourage your shrubs to form a dense, attractive hedge. The specific timing and techniques may vary depending on the shrub type, but here are some general guidelines:

  • Carolina Allspice: Prune immediately after flowering to shape the shrub and remove dead or damaged branches. Encourage a dense form by cutting back long stems.
  • Forsythia: Prune right after flowering to control its height and promote bushier growth. Prune off one-third of the oldest stems each year to rejuvenate the plant.
  • Weigela: Prune in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Trim back one-third of the oldest stems to maintain shape and encourage new shoots.
  • Witch Hazel: Prune in late winter or early spring, removing dead or crowded branches. Minimal pruning is required to maintain its natural form.
  • Northern Spice Bush: Prune in early spring or late winter to shape the shrub while removing dead wood. Encourage dense growth by cutting back long branches.

Step 5: Maintenance

Maintaining a healthy shrub hedge involves regular care:

  • Watering: Water your newly planted shrubs deeply and consistently until they become established. Once established, most drought-tolerant shrubs benefit from occasional watering during dry spells.
  • Mulching: Apply 2-3 inch layers of mulch around the base of the shrubs to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.
  • Fertilizing: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring to promote healthy growth. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for dosage.
  • Pest and Disease Control: Monitor your shrubs for signs of pests or diseases. Take prompt action if any issues arise. Regularly inspect the foliage for abnormalities.

Training shrubs into hedges can be a rewarding and enjoyable gardening endeavor. The choice of shrub species is critical, and each option, including Carolina Allspice, Forsythia, Weigela, Witch Hazel, and Northern Spice Bush, brings unique characteristics to your landscape. By following these steps, you can create a lush and beautiful hedge that provides privacy and structure and enhances the overall aesthetics of your outdoor space. With proper care and maintenance, your shrub hedge will flourish and become a lasting asset to your garden for years.

Carolina Allspice - TN Nursery

Carolina Allspice

Carolina Allspice blooms delight the senses, emitting a sweet and spicy fragrance reminiscent of ripe strawberries, which adds a delightful ambiance to any outdoor space. The maroon to brown blooms are eye-catching and long-lasting, ensuring a beautiful display throughout the growing season. It is a captivating and versatile plant with numerous landscaping benefits. Native to the southeastern United States, it is cherished for its unique characteristics and aesthetic appeal, making it a famous choice landscape. Carolina Allspice, formally named Calycanthus floridus, is a rounded deciduous shrub that grows in the eastern United States. It's often called sweetshrub in honor of its fragrant deep-red blooms, which are said to carry the scents of strawberry, pineapple, and banana. The shrub adapts to various settings and grows taller in shady areas. Habitat Of The Carolina Allspice It is native to the Southeast. In the wild, it grows along streambanks, shady woodlands, and mixed deciduous forests. When you find this understory shrub on hillsides, clearings, and by woodland edges, its structure will likely be open and sparse. Appearance Of The Carolina Allspice it grows six to nine feet tall and equally wide in cultivated settings. From April to May, the plant produces a bountiful supply of large, solitary, magnolia-like blooms at the ends of its branches. These clustered, maroon to reddish-brown flowers will continue to appear less frequently in June and July. As the weather warms, the blossoms become quite fragrant. The plant itself is aromatic and dense. Its dark, oval-shaped green leaves and smooth grayish-brown bark emit a pleasant scent when scratched or bruised. The plant's glossy foliage will turn yellow to yellow-green in the fall as the flowers yield to form leathery, brown, urn-shaped seed capsules. These pods ripen in September and October and last through the winter, emitting a lovely fragrance when crushed. Transform Your Garden With Carolina Allspice  They make beautiful all-season additions to various garden settings. They are wonderful when planted near outdoor living spaces, walkways, patios, and entrances, where they can serve as privacy screens. The shrub also does well in naturalistic settings, like woodland gardens, and it makes a lovely cutting plant for flower arrangements. Its closely packed branches provide nesting habitat and protective cover for songbirds and small mammals. They also host moths, such as the double-banded zale and the oblique-banded leafroller moth. During the spring and summer, beetles pollinate the shrubs in a process called cantharophily. If you're looking for fragrant, floral shrubs that add richness and depth to your garden, consider planting Carolina Allspice. With their gorgeous blossoms and lush green leaves, you will surely be delighted by their presence.

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Northern Spice Bush - TN Nursery

Northern Spice Bush

Northern Spice Bush is a deciduous shrub with aromatic green leaves, clusters of small yellow flowers, and red berries. It often attracts wildlife and provides a splash of color in woodland areas. It brings many benefits when thoughtfully integrated into landscaping designs, making it a valuable and ecologically significant addition to outdoor spaces. The Northern Spice Bush is popular with gardeners and landscapers because of its pleasant scent. It's often referred to as the spicebush or wild allspice. Its botanical name is Lindera Benzoin, and it's part of the Laural or Lauraceae family, which includes the bay laurel, California laurel, cassia, and avocado plants. It's native to eastern North America and can be found in Maine and New York. However, it can also be seen as far south as Florida and southwest into Texas and Arkansas. The Looks of Northern Spice Bush Gardeners revere it for its aromatic leaves and flowers, which have a distinct scent when crushed. This deciduous shrub typically grows up to 15 feet tall and wide but can sometimes reach 20 feet. Gardeners can expect it to develop flowers from March through May and produce red berries from late summer through October. The leaves are green in the summer and change color in the fall. The leaves typically reach lengths of between two and six inches. Attracting Wildlife with Northern Spice Bush Gardeners looking to spice up their wildlife viewing opportunities will love planting them. This shrub attracts all birds, bees, and small mammals. The bees are attracted to the flowers, and birds, especially the very wood thrush, are drawn to its berries. This shrub also attracts squirrels and butterflies. Best Spots to Plant Northern Spice Bush in Your Yard Northern Spice Bush can grow up to 15 feet high and wide; it's best to plant it in open areas. It looks best as the focal point of a shade or rain garden or along the perimeter of front and backyards. The shrub can be planted next to several perennials, including grape hyacinth and monkshood. Gardeners can plant blue spruce and deep green hemlock next to Lindera Benzoin, and the shrub does well around dogwood and red vein dianthus. The shrub is an excellent plant for most gardens. It thrives next to other trees and shrubs and makes a statement with its signature scent.

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