(Edited from AP) Good fences do make good neighbors, especially if you like hanging out with the wildlife crowd. The right collection of trees and shrubs adds long-term interest and privacy, while providing cover for birds, pollinators and other wandering critters.

Decide what it is that you want from a living fence and then select some flowering shrubs (lilacs, quince, weigela), deciduous bushes (barberry, burning bush, spirea) or evergreens (arborvitae, boxwood, yews) to accomplish it. All provide a different look or serve a different purpose, from security to nourishment to sound abatement. And there’s nothing wrong with blending varieties or even incorporating them into standard fencing.

(Edited from AP) Good fences do make good neighbors, especially if you like hanging out with the wildlife crowd. The right collection of trees and shrubs adds long-term interest and privacy, while providing cover for birds, pollinators and other wandering critters.

Decide what it is that you want from a living fence and then select some flowering shrubs (lilacs, quince, weigela), deciduous bushes (barberry, burning bush, spirea) or evergreens (arborvitae, boxwood, yews) to accomplish it. All provide a different look or serve a different purpose, from security to nourishment to sound abatement. And there’s nothing wrong with blending varieties or even incorporating them into standard fencing.

“Diversity of species is good insurance against devastation by pests, including insects, disease and mammalian,” said Barbara Bates, a horticulturist with the University of Illinois Extension.

Hedges are used primarily for creating property borders, establishing visual screens and directing traffic flow, Bates said.

If it’s a wildlife hedge you’re after, then stay away from high-maintenance shrubs such as formalized boxwoods or tightly groomed topiaries.

Many old-fashioned shrubs that have fallen out of favor have worked well as hedges. Aromatic and long-blooming rugosa roses, for example, grow quite large, although a few of the newer hybrids are smaller.

“Whenever you plant anything, you have to be thinking about property line issues,” she said. “Set them (thorny roses) far enough back that they won’t be a problem for neighbors, particularly those with small children.”

Install a fence if low-maintenance landscaping is a priority. Shrubs and trees can be sizable investments requiring a great deal of commitment.

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