When considering a hedge for your garden, you are likely looking to define the boundary of your home. You may also want shelter and privacy. It could be that you have a dominant easterly wind that blows across your garden and a clipped box hedge would provide you shelter as you sit on your wooden garden benches. Alternatively, you might want something more natural like Hawthorn, which is designed to encourage birds and other small animals to visit your garden.
Whatever your reason, you hedge needs to offer a balance of practicality, function and beauty. It should practically fit in the space you have available without upsetting your neighbours.
Naming the best hedging plants, UK-wide would be impossible. There are many different gardens across the country, with many individuals looking for different things. Therefore, to offer advice on the best hedge plants, we first need to consider what you are looking for when making your decision.
First, decide if you want an evergreen, flowering, formal or informal hedge. Consider the height you want and how much maintenance you are willing to undertake. If you’re going to attract wildlife, then you are looking for a hedge that is informal or semi-formal – where the animals can shelter and seek food without being disturbed by your pruning.
Now, assess the planting area. What are the soil conditions where the hedge will be planted and will the hedge you select tolerate these conditions? Have a look at the gardens and parks around your home. You should see the sort of hedges that grow best in the soil type in your area.
Evergreen hedges keep their leaves throughout the year. Therefore, your privacy will be maintained all-year around. Conifers are the most popular evergreen hedging option. However, evergreen hedges take a lot of pruning, as they can quickly look neglected. If you leave a conifer to grow out of control, you will not be able to restore it to an orderly form.
Deciduous hedging can be left to grow informally. However, they lose their leaves over the winter, and you will be left with a skeletal frame between you and your neighbour. If you choose beech hedges, you will enjoy pretty, brown leaves which can offer a point of interest through the colder seasons. One of the most significant benefits of deciduous hedging is the filtering of strong winds in the winter. As the wind passes through the boundary between you and your neighbours, you will not suffer from the same storm damage as with other fencing types.
Buying your plants is an adventure. You can go to a retail outlet and buying your plants, but you are going to get a better deal buying from a specialist grower. You are better buying whips, which are smaller transplants than you are purchasing more established plants. Your hedge will bed in much better with the younger, smaller plants. However, you will have to wait a year or two before your hedge is at the height and density required.
You then need to look at the height when fully grown. Smaller hedges such as Hicksii or Suffruticosa will grow to about 3 – 4 feet high. However, more substantial hedging, such as Leyland Cyprus Sloe, can grow over 6 foot tall. If this is a boundary plant, you are going to have to consider the impact of light and shade of your neighbour’s garden. You may want to speak to them before choosing something that could tower more than 6 foot over their yard.
You then need to consider spacing. The spacing will dictate how many plants you need to cover the area you want to be hedged. If you choose Cotoneaster Lacteus, you will need a plant every three foot. However, if you choose Hyssop, an aromatic herb, you will need a plant every 4 inches or so to create a continuous hedge.
Finally, choose your hedge based on soil type. Portuguese Laurel is excellent for heavy clay soil, whereas evergreen honeysuckle is excellent for chalky soils. If you experience a lot of rain, then the Hawthorn will sustain itself in this environment well. The salty air of the seaside would best suit a Fuchsia, especially if the weather was unusually mild. However, colder and more exposed areas would need beech or common holly.
Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches – a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.