These 8 Head-High Hedges Grow Fastest

by Lisa Watters-Lain, Arizona’s garden gal, Watters Garden Center

Privacy and hedgerows are not top-of-mind until that neighbor dumps his leftover construction material for all to enjoy at the next backyard barbeque. My favorite is the super-sized motor home parked within feet of the property line that is now a chrome-covered albatross sitting between yards. We spend a lot of time outdoors in Arizona, and a little privacy is essential.

An unfortunate mistake so many homeowners make is planting a hedge that becomes massive within several years and overgrowing its space, obscuring walkways and the front of your house. Screens taller than head high can obliterate vistas and obscure sunsets. This article is dedicated to those plants easily maintained at head height with a little manicuring. Here is my list of the top seven local plants that make great scenes in local landscapes.

Climbing roses are a natural barrier for Prescott gardens. Not only are roses stunning the entire growing season, but in their thorny nature they keep out the unwanted. Roses only need pruning in March, so they are far less work than the hedging needs to keep the shape on the head-height shrubs mentioned above. Also, check out the new Easy Elegance Shrub Series roses in a host of colors and fragrances. Now is a great time to plant a rose, or any hedge.

Gilted Edge Silverberry is a new hedge plant with a native twist that rivals manzanita, growing equally tall. Bright gold edges highlight every blue leaf for a stunning native hedge plant. Plant at 4-foot intervals and you have a head-high privacy screen so thick and bright no one would dare enter. Investment property owners use this plant because it classes up a property’s value yet hardy enough to keep up with a landscapes’ deadliest tenant.

Glossy Privet is a better choice with the same look. Growing to only head high, the broad green leaves form a thick hedge that ultimately reaches human height. The waxy leaves hold moisture within the plant’s structure, creating a low-water, low-maintenance hedge with fewer bug problems than its red-tipped counterpart.

Golden Euonymous is the most popular of the hedge plants. Bright gold foliage appears festive and fun for year-round class. An ideal hedge, it can be sheared or left to grow into a natural form dense enough to make an excellent visual and sound barrier. As tough as they come. Look to the Silver King Euonymus for the same design element only in a silver cream color that is equally striking. Feel free to mix and match the two for long hedgerows.

Grape Holly is a natural alternative. Several varieties grow wild in the mountains of Arizona. Snowballs to 6 feet with minimal care. Once up to size, this hedge could be cut off from all care except very scarce water during the heat of summer. Fun gold flowers cover this plant in early spring followed by a grape-like berry; the birds will love this hedge. The leaves resemble English holly and are well adapted to our wind and bright sun. Makes an excellent fence along driveway, entrances and property lines.
Mint Julep Juniper is another super hardy plant your grandfather used as a hedge, but with much better color. Of course, Northern Arizona is famous for our juniper forest, so a juniper hedge fits and is equally hardy. The signature seafoam green foliage proliferates to head high, needing little help and even less water. Forms a very thick hedge that requires infrequent trimming to keep it perfectly manicured.

Red Tipped Photinia is the most common plant used as a tall hedge. More maintenance is required for this aggressive 12-foot evergreen. The new growth of spring emerges red then matures to a waxy green leaf. A ladder may be necessary to prune this hedge if left to itself very long and too broad for most properties.

Victory Pyracantha is another Victorian plant ideally suited to an 8-foot hedge row. White flowers in spring form orange berries the birds dearly love. Thick glossy green leaves are small, surprisingly hardy and the fastest growing of the tall-hedge plants. This plant has all the seasons covered for a breathtaking landscape. Long thorns prevent a visitor’s escape through this hedge, but it is equally safe at keeping the unwanted out.

Spacing is critical for a fast-filling hedge. Use the plant’s ultimate height as the spacing recommendations for a thick hedge. If the plant tag says your plant will grow 5- to 7-feet tall, use the smaller of the two numbers. Our arid Arizona climate seems to dwarf plants or at least force them to grow on the small size of natural.

Ask for help because when the perfect hedge requires planting 15 perfectly spaced specimens that create your own ideal garden abode experts should do the planting. We have staff members who love plantings, watching a new garden come alive and the beauty of a new hedgerow in a customer’s yard. A good gardener will know the soils, wind and environmental issues and how to compensate for a plant’s best performance. When planting yourself ask for the insider tips and the three things needed to have a new plant genuinely thrive in our mountain soils.

Until next issue, I’ll be helping gardeners screen prying eyes here at Watters Garden Center.

Lisa Watters-Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Road in Prescott or contacted through her website at or

Don’t have time to view the entire article, see the highlights below:

  • Eight high-hedges: Climbing Roses, Gilted Edge Silverberry, Glossy Privet, Golden Euonymous, Grape Holly, Mint Julep Juniper, Red Tipped Photinia and Victory Pyracantha.
  • Climbing roses like Cecil Brunner Roses are a beautiful alternative to a hedge.
  • Check out the new Easy Elegance Series of shrub roses in a host of colors and fragrances.
  • Use the plant’s ultimate height as the spacing recommendations for a thick hedge.
  • Now is a great time to plant roses or any hedge.
  • Ask for planting help when installing large garden project. Garden Centers have planting crews to make the job easy.