Hi, I am looking for input on planting a hedge and screening row. I have a...

Asked December 27, 2019, 10:34 AM EST

Hi, I am looking for input on planting a hedge and screening row. I have a property that I would like to screen from a nearby road. I am ok to dedicate up to about 40 to 50 feet for the screening and would like the screen to be a physical and visual barrier, as well as good habitat for local wildlife. Additionally, the property is quite remote & without utilities so the lower the maintenance the better. I am thinking a three layered approach, 10 feet of black berries (Rubus allegheniensis) , 10 feet of Osage orange (Maclura pomifera), and finally 10 feet of faster growing - yet hardy evergreen. No idea which one yet, but I was thinking about Norway spruce (Picea abies), but its not native and not sure if that is the best screening / habitat tree. I have not done a soil test, but planning that in the next couple weeks. I plan to transplant the berries, seed the Osage, and seedling the evergreens. Attached is a diagram and dimensions. I would love any advice you can give!

Adams County Ohio

3 Responses

Thanks for using Ask a Master Gardener with your question. Congratulations on having such a place to design and plant. Your desire to plant with more native plants to create habitat is very admirable. With the two natural areas in your county, you should be able to gather great ideas. The Edge of Appalachia Nature Preserve is a true gem.

Most areas developed for wildlife habitat would contain a very diverse plant selection. If you wish to have the three distinct layer that you have proposed, you will have to do some early maintenance to prevent the natural encroachment that may occur from other plant species.

The Osage Orange is not a native tree to Ohio, but was introduced in the early 1800's. It definitely will create a physical barrier for you. Here is a link about the tree:
A native option could be Black Locust, Robinia pseudoacacia. It will grow into a thicket as well has have small thorns similar to the Osage Orange.

The use of an evergreen will provide that visual and physical barrier that you are looking for. There are several Ohio native evergreens that could fit the location, but some may not be native to Adams County. Most of the pines are not exclusively native to your county by may be to Ohio. We have no spruce that are native.
Here is a couple of links that are from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources , Division of Forestry:

The two most common and prolific growers would be the Northern White Cedar or Arborvitae, Thuja occidentalis, and the Eastern Redcedar, Juniperus virginiana. Both of these native plants are used by wildlife for cover and food. In addition to the native arborvitae, I like the hybrid western arborvitae, Green Giant. It will grow to tree size, putting on 3' of growth per year once established.

The soil test is a great beginning. I am in Northwest Ohio and our soil types rate as severe for seedling transplant mortality rates. You local soil conservation service should have a soil survey for your county that would help you with this information.
Here is there web page:
and here is the Soil survey online:

As I stated earlier, if you wish to keep one species per row, you may need to maintain to keep out invaders. Most native areas will have a mix of plantings. The other problem with single species plantings is that you might get a disease or insect that could be specific to that plant and eliminate your whole planting.

I trust this gives some input on your plant selection. Thanks for letting us help. If you want more discussion, please just respond to this email and we can continue. Thanks,

Hi Dave, thanks very much for the insight!
The note about risks of a single species are pretty profound...
here is what I am thinking now.
- the initial row, stay with the local Blackberries, perhaps mix in some Black Raspberries
- Use the Black Locust as a middle anchor, but include some other species to augment (?)
- Finally, do a mix of Green Giants as well as Eastern Red Cedars, planted about 4 to 3 apart, to be thinned as needed.

Now... crazy idea that we came up with, while this whole barrier is growing, put in a front swath of bamboo, barrier on all sides by a high-density polyethylene rhizome barrier. No idea what the barrier would cost, but the plan would be to rip out the bamboo when the other hedging plants take effect, or before the barrier would fail. Might be too much of a risk, but it was an idea.

Good Morning, sorry to be slow to respond to you. I was out of town for the day.

You could possibly add some red raspberry, Rubus idaeus, into the mix on the first row. This species is a small-fruited plant, the size of the black raspberry, not the large ones we buy in the store.

Second row trees you might include could be Wafer Ash (Ptelea trifoliata), American or Wild Plum (Prunus americana), American Hazelnut (Corylus americana), or Common Pricklyash (Zanthoxylum americanum). All of these would form thicket type growth and are native to your area. The Pricklyash and the Wild Plum would have some thorns and are hard to get through if you try to walk (climb) through them.
Here is a great link form Texas A&M that will give you native plant descriptions even for selections for Ohio:

For the third row, you will end up wasting quite a few of the plants if plant at 3-4' and then thin. The Green Giant Arborvitae should probably be spaced about 6' apart, my neighbor has his about 10' apart and have grown together in 10 years. They will tend to be wider than the Redcedar. You could transplant either of these into other locations on your property rather than cut them down. Or plant the highest priority areas with the plants close, then extend the row with the transplants.

Now as for the bamboo, I would recommend against introducing this plant on to your property. Even though it will grow fast and form the visual break you are hoping for, you will have a terrible time to eliminate it or contain it. I had planted a small Yellow Grove plant in what I thought was a contained area and the razor sharp growing tips punctured through the barrier I had installed and came through and started to grow 5' away from the barrier. In my opinion, and it is just that, I would not risk it.

The plants that you are proposing, since they are natives, will thrive and grow more quickly that you might think. You might be more successful to begin with plants as opposed to seeds as some species may take a couple years to germinate.
All of the raspberries would very successfully grow from root divisions, taken early before new growth begins in the Spring.
Black Locust will root from stems taken and stuck in the ground. This is commonly where fence rows of these plants came from, cut poles used as fence posts that rooted and began to grow.
If you can find a local source (field or ditch) where the Eastern Redcedar is growing and can get permission, they will transplant and grow quickly. You will need to buy any Green Giants that you want to plant, but they seem to be available on the internet in large quantities.

I hope that this aids you in your decision making. I wish you success in your endeavor. Let me know how things turn out.