How do you access a side-yard utility area with a hedge in the way? Illusion, says garden designer Brenda Gousha, who created a "split" hedge using Carolina laurel cherry in her Escondido yard, shown here.
When she planted the curving hedge, Gousha intended to leave an opening in it to provide access to the utility area. But she had already left an opening elsewhere in the hedge to frame the entrance to a rose garden a few feet away. Since she felt that a second gap would ruin the hedge's symmetry, Gousha came up with an ingenious solution: Plant a second hedge parallel to the first one; make it 6 feet long and position it to slightly overlap the first hedge; then run a 2-foot-wide path between the two hedges to the utility area.
Gousha planted the Carolina laurel cherries (Prunus caroliniana) from 1-gallon pots, spacing them in a row 2½ feet apart. Where they overlap, the two hedges are planted 4 feet apart.
The solution worked. From other areas of the garden, the two hedges visually merge, creating an unbroken line and maintaining the larger hedge's beautiful symmetry. Gousha says walls of foliage also make the perfect outdoor room. "When my husband and I sit out here, we're just a few feet from the street. But we have complete privacy."
DESIGN: Brenda Gousha, Sisters' Specialty Gardens, Rancho Santa Fe (760/473-0234)