Planting A “Green Fence” With Slate Chips

Q: I want to plant some type of narrow “green fence” between my property and my neighbor’s. He uses slate chips along his property line and is fine with me planting something there as long as I use slate chips for mulch. I was thinking of a ‘Yuletide’ camellia hedge, realizing it would need regular pruning. Or maybe some type of upright grass? Would the chips affect either one?

A: I think the slate chips would be fine. If they are shaded a little bit by anything you plant, they won’t get very hot and the soil underneath won’t become too warm. If you don’t mind the regular clipping it will require, the camellia could be a nice screen. Switchgrass, Panicum virgatum, or big bluestem, Andropogon gerardii, are attractive upright grasses to consider but they turn brown and die back to the ground each winter. More narrow, upright plants to consider: ‘Sky Pencil’ holly and ‘Straight Talk’ privet.

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