Hickory Farms Newsletter – January 2016

Happy 2016!
I hope your holidays were enjoyable. This month I’d like to talk about screens and windbreaks.
This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I live in a rural area in the middle of a woods and, while I love people in general, I also appreciate the privacy at home. But I grew up in a housing development in Central Ohio with neighbors 20 ft away. What’s the saying ?……………. “Good fences make good neighbors”. You may love your neighbors and that’s great. But what if they move? I’ve often heard, when suggesting a privacy screen, “Oh…….. we don’t need that there’s a vacant lot behind our house”.

My response is, “They can build a house a lot faster than you can grow a tree”.

hlf newsletter photo

Of course if you’ve got a small area, you’ll have to think about smaller, narrow growing screen plants. You might even consider a trellis with a vine for a living fence. I like Clematis for this because they fill in for summers when you’re more likely to be outside. And they don’t get big and woody like many other vines which can become a maintenance problem down the road.

A large growing, vigorous Clematis to consider is the fall flowering species Clematis paniculata.

Otherwise, I’ve got some ideas you should think about for large area windbreaks with pine and spruce trees. First of all, don’t put them in straight rows! At Hickory Lane we always go for a natural look in our plantings. The reason for this, besides aesthetics, is that whatever you attempt to do with plants, nature will dominate. Those straight rows will not always look like nice, straight, uniform lines. Some will grow faster than others, some will lean, some will die, lightning might take the top out of one. The bottom line is that plants are not bricks and they’ll take on a unique natural shape. So work with that and go for a natural look from the beginning.

Another thing to consider for that natural look which also will reduce the total expense is to mix in various size trees. You could also plant a few trees each year, filling in your screen over a number of years.

Also, don’t use all one species! Who knows what bugs or disease problems might be coming down the road so diversify with a mixture of species to prevent losing all your trees at once to a possible problem.Pines generally grow faster than spruces but they’ll eventually drop their bottom branches. The spruces will be branched to the ground much longer. If your trees are older and dropping bottom branches it might be time to plant some “understory” shrubs to fill in the bottom of your screen.Give your trees enough spacing so that they’ll fill in at maturity and not get too crowded. Crowding will cause the trees to thin out and possibly die. You might need to consider cutting out selected trees if this
is the case.

Don’t forget to PLAN before you PLANT!

Enjoy the remaining days of this dormant season.