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To holly or not to holly, that is the question

To holly or not to holly, that is the question


Old 04-05-05, 04:04 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 224
To holly or not to holly, that is the question

I have a second story deck that overlooks my backyard and that of my neighbors. They have pools, swingsets and toys often strewn everywhere, so I'd like to screen this view a bit. My yard isn't very big (40ft across, 35ft from house), and the half farthest away from the house is uphill, so anything I plant will already be at least half way up to the deck level. The hill gets full sun and the soil has a lot of clay, and I'm in zone 7 or 7a.

My question is whether hollies would be a good choice for this area. It's what 2 landscaping companies have independantly recommended, but I am concerned about the need to prune. I want something that will grow to about 8-10 feet, but the steepness of the hill will make it difficult to prune the side closest to the house, if that will be necessary to keep them looking nice. Most of my neighbors have elected to plant Arborvita, but I was hoping for something that would have color in the winter (ie, berries).

The current recommendation is 5 Chesapeake Hollies for a backscreen and 4 Blue Princess Hollies in front of them for contrast and color. That seems like a lot of plants for a 40 ft wide space. I'm also reading mixed reviews about how fast the hollies will grow.

All suggestions and comments are appreciated.
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Old 04-05-05, 06:28 PM
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: United States
Posts: 2,535
I don't know about the hollies. Do take your concerns about pruning and other maintenance to the landscapers.
As for fast growth vs slow growth: generally, the faster a plant grows, the weaker (and shorter-lived) it is. Consider the maple vs the oak. Maples grow very fast, oaks grow very slow. While maple is a hardwood, it doesn't compare to oak.
Since two landscapers have both suggest the hollies, I'd be inclined to go with holllies.
Old 04-05-05, 07:19 PM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Taylors, SC
Posts: 9,483
Generally, holly is not the fastest growing plant. The savannah and burfordi get to be a bit large unless well situated in the landscape design. The american holly will grow 25 feet or more. Holly does well as a screen and the combination suggested will provide some color contrast. Viburnum is evergreen in zone 7 and has understated white flowers in early spring with some sporadic blooming in winter. I find that it grows faster than holly, to about 12 feet with a width of four to six feet. I had some grow from a foot to about four feet in two years. Fragrant tea olive is a moderate grower with pleasant texture to the plant and leaves and attractive white blooms. It will grow rapidly to four to six feet before it settles down a bit. It can be pruned to tree form or not, as suits. I don't care much for plants that require much pruning, so I stay away from privet and other rangy plants.

You might take a look around your neighborhood to see what is there that appeals to you, then stop and ask the owners what plant it is.

Hope this helps.

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