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The Best Border Shrubs

Honeysuckle image by StylezInk from

To screen an unsightly view, define a property boundary or muffle traffic noise, plant a border hedge. Most often casually planted and virtually care-free, border hedges are sometimes made up of several different varieties of shrubs in different heights. Border hedges can be grown using deciduous shrubs, evergreen shrubs, or a combination of the two types for four-season interest.

Tatarian Honeysuckle

Growing about 9-feet high, tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tartarica) is a fast-growing addition to the shrub border. Its white or pink flowers bloom in May and develop into red berries by July and August. Easily transplanted and fast to become established, honeysuckle grows on nearly any type of soil in sun or partial shade, qualities that make it one of the most popular and commonly planted deciduous shrubs in Missouri, according to the University of Missouri Extension.

Large Fothergilla

A slow-growing addition to the shrub border, large fothergilla (Fothergilla major) will grow 6 to 10 feet with an 8-foot spread. It thrives in partial shade with moist, well-drained soil that is slightly acidic. Large fothergilla is a attractive as a mass planting, a single specimen, or with other shrub varieties in a border hedge. Its leaves show bright red, orange or yellow fall color. According to Ezra Haggard, author of "Trees, Shrubs and Roses for Midwest Gardens," Large fothergilla is "one of the best native shrubs for the garden." The dwarf variety of this witchhazel relative (Fothergilla gardenii) is also recommended by several sources.

Drooping Leucothoe

A low-growing broadleaf evergreen native to Virginia, the branches of drooping leucothoe (Leucothoe fontanesiana) extend nearly to the ground. It grows just 3 to 4 feet high and is ideal for filling in the lower levels of the shrub border--the plant is a Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Gold Medal Plant Award winner for 2007. The leaves are bronze in spring, deep green in summer, and slightly purple in the fall. White 2- to 3-inch long clusters of flowers appear in spring. Plant this shrub in moist and well-drained acidic soil. Leucothoe prefers partial shade and dislikes dry or windy sites. According to PHS, this shrub performs well in gardens from New York City to Washington, D.C.

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