Planting a Privacy Hedge

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Row of Privacy Plantings Next to the Road

Update: It’s now been two years since we planted our junipers and three years since we planted our hollies. Be sure to read through to the bottom of the post to see how big they’ve gotten.

Last week, we planted privacy trees in our yard. And I don’t think we’ve ever been happier to dig 47 holes in humid, 90 degree weather. That’s because all that digging marked the end of a project that we started 10 years ago.

Mature Nellie R. Stevens in Sideyard

When we bought our house, it had an ugly chain link fence around the backyard. We lived with it for a while; then, a decade ago, we finally ripped it out, and planted a row of Nellie R. Stevens Hollies down the left side of the yard, so people wouldn’t be able to see into our backyard from the street. Within a few years, the hollies grew into a dense, evergreen privacy screen, and this is how they look today (that’s our side yard in the foreground).

I absolutely love the way they divide our yard into a backyard and side yard. It’s like having multiple garden rooms.

Back when we planted our hollies, we decided to hold off on planting a privacy hedge along the back portion of our yard. That’s because we hoped to eventually buy the little cottage behind our house, and 18 months ago, we finally got to do just that. Phew, so glad that worked out!

As soon as we closed on the property, we ripped up the rest of the chain link fence …

Mature Nellie R. Stevens Hollies Planted Next to Young Nellies

and that first spring, we planted more Nellie R. Stevens Hollies to extend the row.

I really wanted to plant a privacy hedge around the rest of the yard, but there just wasn’t enough money in our budget to do that last year. So, we went back to playing the wait game.

Which really means I stalked my go-to source for trees, until they had a killer sale, and we had some craft show money we could earmark for this project.

Row of Privacy Plantings Next to the Road

Since I didn’t want to eat up our yard with a bunch of wide trees, I researched privacy trees extensively, before deciding to go with Spartan Junipers for the other two sides of our backyard. They grow 15-20 feet tall, but only get 4-5 feet wide. And like the Nellies, they’re evergreen, and don’t require any pruning. Better still, they’re fast growers, so we won’t have to wait long for them to form a privacy hedge around our yard.

That’s the cottage in the above photo. Since it sits at the back of our property, we decided to enclose it with privacy plantings. Once the hedge grows together, it’ll be the most private part of our yard.

View of Newly Planted Privacy Hedge From Porch

And this is the current view from that porch. It’ll be amazing when the junipers form a dense Secret Garden-like wall. I plan to take up the grass, and replace it with lots of flowers and meandering paths.

Office Side Porch/Yard in Late May

Kind of like I did on the other side of the cottage.

Right Side of Backyard

Our new privacy hedge also runs down the entire right side of our yard. I’m looking forward to screening out all of our neighbors’ cars, sheds, etc.

Privacy Plantings in Front of Fence

I can’t wait until this is just one dense wall of green.

Overgrown Apricot Trees

And remember those overgrown apricots that we removed back in April? Those “dwarfs” that were supposed to top out at eight feet, but had grown to be over 22 feet tall and counting, without ever producing so much as a single apricot?

Privacy Hedge Planted Between Backyard and Garage

My husband spent several days digging out their roots, and this is what that bed looks like now. So much neater.

Empty Garden Bed

I plan to plant a bunch of colorful perennials in front of our new hedge. In fact, I’ve already snagged some plants off the clearance rack at Lowes.

I’ll be sure to share updates as our privacy hedge grows in.

Curious How Much This Project Cost to Complete?

After taking advantage of a sale, we spent $1,093.94 (including tax). Doing the labor ourselves saved thousands.

Progress Update

Planting young trees saves a lot of money, but it does take longer for them to reach their full size. If you’re trying to decide whether the savings is worth the extra time, hopefully this update on how our privacy plantings are coming along will help you decide.

Row of Privacy Plantings Next to the Road

This is what our Spartan Junipers looked like right after planting.

Junipers and Privacy Fence

Row of Spartan Junipers

This is what our Spartan Junipers looked like one year after planting.

Spartan Junipers Two Years After Planting Along Fence

Spartan Junipers Two Years After Planting

And this is what they look like two years after planting. They’re currently around 5 feet tall.

Newly Planted Nellie R Stevens Hollies

Here’s what our Nellie R. Stevens hollies looked like when they were first planted.

Mature Nellie R. Stevens Hollies Planted Next to Young Nellies

Here they are one year later.

Nellie R Stevens Hollies Two Years After Planting

Here they are two years later.

Nellie R. Stevens Hollies Three Years After Planting

And here’s what they look like three years later. They’re currently around 7 feet tall. Our prior experience is that they grow exponentially year three and beyond, so I can’t wait to see how much they grow this year.

Want to Explore More of My Garden?

You can take a tour of my garden here. It includes our front, side and backyard.

You can also get photo updates of our home and cottage gardens here and here.

And if you’re wondering, is my preferred source for trees. That’s not a paid endorsement, it’s just who I like to buy from. Since the trees come direct from the grower, I think they’re healthier than anything you can get from a local nursery or garden center. And you can’t beat the convenience of having trees delivered to your door. They run free shipping promotions all the time.

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  1. Great job!! I’m so impressed with the changes you’ve made over the years in both yards (the main house and the cottage). I’m looking forward to more updates.

  2. I have planted some screens of Spartan Junipers and Hetzi Junipers, am amazed at their 10 -12 ft height after 7 years.

    I am planning to plant a screen along about 170 ft of property line, and now I am evaluating whether to do Nellie Stevens Hollie instead of Junipers since they grow to quickly and form a wall once mature. From your experience, do you have a preference on Nellie Stevens vs Spartan Juniper? I am aware one obvious concern with the Hollies is the need to trim. But isn’t that needed just once every year or two?

    Thank you,

    1. Hi David,

      I’m a big fan of both. The Nellie R Stevens Hollies are faster growers, and maintain their Christmas tree shape without pruning. So, I don’t prune mine at all. But, if you want a more formal, shaped hedge they take pruning well. Hollies flower in early spring. The flowers are short lived, but during that time they’re absolutely covered in bees. I don’t mind this, but it could be an issue, if you were planting them near a playground, deck or door. Like you, I’ve been impressed with the growth of my Spartan Junipers. They’re entering their second growing season, and they’re already filling in nicely. I chose them for a couple reasons: the fact that they don’t get very wide or ridiculously tall. I didn’t want to lose a bunch of yard, or have something that felt out of scale with everything around it, as I think is often the case with things like, Arborvitaes or Thuja Giants. Both the Nellies and Junipers are evergreen and drought tolerant. I really don’t think you could go wrong with either.

  3. Great work! It looks nice even at their small sizes, something super cute about it even. They’ll grow fast in your warmer growing zone, in TN. I’ve read that Nellie likes a bit of water during dry spells unlike the Spartans especially when establishing themselves. Curious, what did you use to create your Tour My Garden image? Keep up the good work! 🙂

    1. Hi Devon,

      Both the hollies and the junipers are doing great — we haven’t lost a single one, and they’ve grown a TON. I plan to post some update pictures in the next week or so. We had a freak snow storm last winter with very heavy snow and winds blowing from an unusual direction that bent the junipers over and weighed them down with snow. I was worried they’d be damaged, but we didn’t have any breakage, and only a few needed some staking to straighten them back up.

  4. The hollies look great! What size were they when you planted them and how long did it take to reach 10-12 ft? I just planted four 4-5 footers and hoping to achieve a 10 ft screen in 4-5 years to block out my back neighbor. Thanks!

    1. You shouldn’t have any trouble achieving that goal. The oldest hollies in our yard were 6 ft tall when we planted them, and now they’re HUGE. The newest ones were around 3 ft tall, when we planted them 3.5 years ago, and they’re already over 6 ft tall. My experience has been that the growth is kind of on the slower side the first few years, and then they suddenly take off in a big way. I’m expecting ours to form a full privacy screen by year five. I’ll try to do an update on this post in the next week or so, so everyone can see just how much our hedge has grown in the last year. The junipers are way bigger than they were this time last year.

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