Talk Dirt To Me

Gardening in Alaska presents big challenges, whether it's the extra effort in finding plants tough enough to survive our Zone 2-4 climate, communicating with like-minded Alaska gardeners, or keeping up with the latest trends, issues and solutions. We'll try to help with that. We'll also tour gardens from Homer to Anchorage to Wasilla to Willow whenever we get the chance, and post the best garden photos around. Presenting a forum about cold-weather gardening and for cold-weather gardeners is what we are all about. We hope you'll join us on the Talk Dirt garden blog.

Photographer and gardener Fran Durner (fdurner@adn.com) writes the blog.

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Shrubs for privacy?

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There are some shrubs and trees that are just plain moose feed. Avoid planting them if you can. Photo by Fran Durner.There are some shrubs and trees that are just plain moose feed. Avoid planting them if you can. Photo by Fran Durner. I live out in Palmer (Wolf Lake area.) We are looking at investing in shrubbery to help with privacy for our property. My husband would like something that would have the potential of growing 10ft +.

He's from Oregon and remembers ones his parents have that are green all year long.

From Kenai myself. I'm not sure that there is such a thing up here but we did find something at Lowes last year that has stayed green but it's also only two ft tall.

I've heard good things about mock orange? and would lilacs work?

I'm looking for both short and tall shrubbery that could be used to line a driveway and line one's property; that would keep out critters and onlookers. Something that would look nice all year long.

Is there anything that you would recommend, both flowering and non?

Thanks ,
Ludie

  7     March 7, 2008 - 11:47am | IvyFriday

privacy hedge

You might also consider the common AK elderberry, a tall and fast-growing shrub, native to Southcentral, with bright red berries. Good for birds. You won't find it in nurseries, rather, look for seedlings in June in the vicinity of mature shrubs. I find them somewhat difficult to transplant if the roots are disturbed, so I take a big shovelful of dirt around the seedling. The seedlings like the first year watered and shaded, after that they do well in open sun. The moose seem to eat this shrub after they've picked through all others, including lilacs and siberian pea. I had a long siberian pea shrub once, and regretted it. The pruning was a monumental task, dealing with the thorns. Also, seedlings invaded my lawn after a few years.

  6     March 6, 2008 - 11:13pm | tagalak

more shrubs to consider

I like the idea of a mixed hedge ... good visual interest.
Maybe some rose-tree-of china and nanking cherries to go along with lilacs. The landscape manual for plants that work well in our area is being revised and will be a useful tool for more possible plants to see in your hedge. Stay tuned and Good luck!

  March 9, 2008 - 10:57am | talkdirt

A moose meal?

How do those two shrubs rate for flavor on moose's taste-o-meeter?

  5     March 6, 2008 - 1:38pm | marlenek

Privacy shrubbery

I am surprised no one has mentioned the Siberian Pea shrub, which I believe gets well over 10 feet tall, is dense, and is a very pretty green in the summer. I think it makes little yellow flowers too. I think it might be fairly moose resistent also since the ones I've seen around town were big, tall and thick and thriving despite being available moose food.

  March 6, 2008 - 2:07pm | talkdirt

Not crazy about them

Although the Siberian Pea can be considered a perfect shrub in the right conditions, I did not mention it because it can be considered marginally invasive and it is also susceptible to powdery mildew. Once the mildew appears, it's nearly impossible to completely get rid of and it's pretty ugly. Luckily, there are lots of other shrubs and trees to consider. A mixed hedge is a good idea. - Fran

  4     March 6, 2008 - 9:44am | pajoyner

Arborvitae is attarctive and

Arborvitae is attarctive and available in quite a few different forms and sizes but moose will definitely eat them and the damage is very difficult to remedy. Most moose haven't tried them yet but I've seen large globe-shaped arborvitae in Anchorage with an entire side munched out. In areas where arborivitae and deer are common, the arborivitae look like Popsicles because the deer eat all the branches that they can reach.

Dwarf or tree form spruce are a good evergreen option and a mix of species is always a good idea.

  3     March 5, 2008 - 6:02pm | abel

hedge plant ideas

Hi Ludie,

I think the mixed hedge idea is great. One thing we know from living here is the rules change all the time. Plants that used to be considered 'mooseproof' no longer are. If you plant a mix your chances of success will be greater and your planting will be much more interesting. There are very few plants that moose won't at least try, at least in Anchorage. Sometimes 'trying' ie nibbling them means destroying their shape. The lilacs to try are Canadian hybrids, in my mid hillside yard they have never been touched. They are large round headed shrubs that are quite hardy and have wonderful blooms. Moose also will not eat any Spruce, so you can feel free to add in Colorado spruce (if you have the space) or any of the smaller growing/ornamental spruce (Picea pungens). Many hardy roses, though nibbled on by moose can recover. The Alaska Rose Society has worked hard to make information about hardy roses suitable to our area availble. Many roses are hardy here but also many of the roses sold locally are not. I would also consider the many varieties of Spirea for color, hardiness, and tolerance to browse. My last advice would be to take a look at Juniper. There are many upright forms as well as prostrate ones. Many are hardy here and would add some evergreen to your planting. Though this is a few ideas there are many more options. Happy Gardening. Lorri Abel owner In the Garden Nursery

  2     March 5, 2008 - 4:16pm | rosmarinus

moose proof shrubery

Consider stuff that's edible like Hascap which is an edible honeysuckle. Also Sea Buckthorn. Also Autumn Olive, making sure that you don't get the sterile variety. These are plants that bear fruit that useable. Go to the web site for One Green World for ideas on the plants and also Google.As far as I know, moose will not bother these. Mock Orange in our yard seems to be moose proof and perfumes the yard wonderfully. Consider a mixed hedge...

  February 16, 2009 - 9:13pm | hankjmatt

Most moose haven't tried

Most moose haven't tried them yet but I've seen large globe-shaped arborvitae in Anchorage with an entire side munched out. In areas where arborivitae and deer are common, the arborivitae look like Popsicles because the deer eat all the branches that they can reach.online game. Dwarf or tree form spruce are a good evergreen option and a mix of species is always a good idea.

  1     March 4, 2008 - 10:36am | talkdirt

Some ideas for plantings

Hi Ludie, I don't know about the mock orange and I believe there are some varieties of lilac that moose will leave alone, but I can tell you what NOT to plant and hopefully some other gardeners will chime in with their recommendations.
See that moose in the photo above? She's dining on my neighbor's crabapple. See that bit of orange at the bottom of the photo? That's my tacky plastic barrier covering the cotoneaster hedge. The moose have regularly pruned that down every year despite multiple applications of PlantSkydd. From the dirty looks they give me as my neighborhood ungulates huff by the yard, the physical barrier seems to finally be doing the trick. I may get a hedge over three feet high this year.
Three things they have not touched are the forsythia at one end of the hedge, the amur cherry at the other end and the arborvitae near the house. The forsythia is covered in lovely yellow flowers at the end of May. The cherry has wonderful bronze-colored bark for winter interest and a sweet white flower in spring. The arborvitae has doubled in size over 15 years and is about 20+ ft tall and evergreen. If you plant an arborvitae, you may want to protect it while it's young from the drying winds of winter by wrapping in burlap.
Hope this gives you some ideas! - Fran

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