All hedges take some years to establish and gain the required height,
but some, such as oval-leaved privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium), are
relatively fast-growing. Remember, though, that the faster they grow,
the more frequently they will need clipping. While your hedge is
maturing, you can erect a temporary screen of split bamboo or hurdles,
or a wire-netting fence as a boundary line. This netting can be left in
place as it will eventually be covered by the hedge. If you can’t wait,
“instant hedges” (the plants are grown in containers) can be bought by
the yard. They are not cheap, but the contracting company will also
prepare the ground and carry out the planting.
Use hedges as garden dividers where you want to split up your space into
different rooms. Tall hedges here create a secret, sheltered enclosure,
further “furnished” with dwarf box edging.
What Type of Hedge?
Evergreens give cover year-round while deciduous hedges are see-through
in winter, except for beech and hornbeam, which retain crisp brown
leaves until spring. If you live in a cold, exposed place, choose a
hardy, deciduous hedge that will withstand windy conditions, such as
hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) or hornbeam (Carpinus betulus). Plants for
seaside gardens exposed to wind, but relatively frost-free, include the
hawthorn and hornbeam again, and also the sea buckthorn (Hippophae
rhamnoides) and tamarix, and the evergreens griselinia, holly, and
olearia, all of which tolerate salty air.
For a smooth, formal evergreen hedge, look for small-leaved plants with a
dense growth habit that tolerate regular close clipping. Two of the
best choices for formal hedges are yew (Taxus baccata) and Lawson
cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana). Others include boxwood (Buxus
sempervirens), or fast-growing privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium), and shrub
honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida).
Informal hedges are often a mixture of flowering and berrying,
evergreen, and deciduous shrubs planted closely together. They are well
suited to rural or semirural areas and informal garden settings, and
need little or no pruning if they are to show off their beauty, so allow
them a bit more space than a clipped hedge. You can achieve a more
formal look by mixing plants of a similar growth rate and size, but with
different foliage colors, such as green and copper beech, or green and
If you already have a hedge, you may consider it your pride and joy, or
merely a chore. If your current hedge is not doing anything for you or
your garden, you could dig it up and start again. This is not as drastic
a step as it may seem—yes, hedges are long-lasting, but they are also
renewable and some grow faster than you might think. You could replace
your old hedge with a low-maintenance version—beech (Fagus sylvatica),
for example, needs just one trimming per year—or, if space is limited,
you could achieve a similar effect by training ivy through wire netting
or trellises to make a narrow divide.