shrubs for this area and over utilities

Asked February 26, 2017, 10:07 AM EST

Hello, I would like to plant some shrubs in front of a fence line for some privacy. There are utility lines in front of the fence, and I would like to plant forsythia, hydrangeas, firebush, roses, and/or spirea. The area gets full sun during the day and is shady in the afternoon. The utility lines are buried about 3' deep; do these shrubs have deep roots and if so, could you recommend a flowering shrub that will spread out and grow 3-4', or a pretty evergreen? Thank you!

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

Do you have a great deal of space there? You have listed some plants that get pretty want to plan for the mature size for anything you plant, and want to plant away from the fence, planning for that as well. (ex. if a mature shrub is going to be 5 feet wide, you want to plant it at least 2.5 to 3 feet away from the fence... more if you need/want to have walking space behind the row.
As far as the utilities go, your should first call Miss Utility before digging. Their number can be found on this page:
You should also ask them if there is an easement in the area that needs to be kept clear, because they may have recommendations on smaller plants for that area.

Unless you plant to prune, forsythia can get out of control and grow to proportions that take over other plants. They also aren't terribly interesting out of bloom, but they are an exciting sign of spring!
We're not sure what you mean by 'firebush'...maybe you mean 'Burning bush"? We would advise against that one. Even those labelled dwarf get pretty large, and they have become an invasive problem in our area.
The spirea is also listed on the invasives list.
You could consider Knock Out roses, which have a long bloom period, and are attractive. Other possibilities are the natives Virginia Sweetspire, Dwarf fothergilla and others listed in this publication. Native plants are uniquely suited to our landscapes to do well without lots of added chemical or labor inputs.
They are also beneficial for other forms of life including birds and beneficial insects, as they have co-evolved together.
Look here: