Most gardeners prefer growing fences, but those genuinely patient and dedicated choose shrubs to define the space in their garden. Hedging is an excellent way of dividing gardens, creating privacy, and beautifying the foundation of the home.
This ancient tradition of planting woody shrubs close together was popular in many European countries, especially in creating regal landscapes. You can use both types of plants, evergreen and deciduous, to make your own hedge. Let’s find out which ones are ideal solutions for your garden.
Shrubs for creating hedges
Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’
|Forsythia x intermedia|
|Buxus microphylla var japonica|
x Cupressocyparis leylandii
|Ligustrum x vicaryi|
1. Thuja Emerald
Thuja Emerald (Emerald cedar) is an ultimate, up to 7 to 15 feet (2 – 4.6 m) tall, tough, hardy hedging evergreen which requires low maintenance. Under ideal conditions, it can grow about 1 foot (30.5 cm) a year. This plant can tolerate even the freezing temperatures.
Once established, this cone-shaped shrub won’t require watering at all. It doesn’t bloom but looks fantastic, and you won’t need to trim it. Do it only if you don’t want to let it reach its full height. In that case, just cut its top once a year.
2. Portugal Laurel
Portugal laurel (Portuguese laurel) is a neat and tidy evergreen shrub with fragrant, attractive white flowers and dark green leaves placed all over the unusual red stems.
You can expect that this shrub will have a speed of growth of 18 inches (46 cm) per year until reaching its full height of approximately 20 to 30 feet (6 – 9.1 m) tall.
The best thing is that this plant can grow practically everywhere and can tolerate the temperatures of even -4 F (-20 C).
Photinia (Red Robin) is amazingly fast-growing, evergreen hedging shrub, but can be even small tree as well. I adore its unique, brilliant leaves, which become beautifully red in spring. The fragrant white flowers transform to pomes (red berry-like fruits) over time and beautify my garden at any moment of the year.
If you provide excellent conditions for this lovely plant, it can grow up to 2 feet (61 cm) a year. Left untrimmed, Photinia can reach about 12 to 15 feet (3.6 – 4.6 m) height. Otherwise, you can trim it in spring or early summer to avoid undesirable production of new red shoots throughout a season.
4. Lilly Pilly
Lilly pilly (Australian cherries) is widely beloved plant regardless of whether you choose Syzygium, Waterhousea, or Acmena type for your garden. The difference is in the foliage, which is more upright and smaller in Acmena. I love their fat, pink to crimson flowers blooming in summer and delicious berries, which you can use to make yummy jams and jellies.
That winter-fruiting, 10 – 15 feet (3 – 4.5 m) tall evergreen tree has one disadvantage. It is prone to pests. Therefore, you should plant psyllid-free variety if you wish to enjoy your bush without worries. Prune your plant once a year to get a denser shrub with desirable shape and more abundant blooming in the next season.
Beech (European beech, common beech, green beech) is monoecious, wind-pollinated shrub creating a neat, fantastic box-shaped hedge. If you choose this magnificent tree for your garden, you will enjoy its abundant green foliage in spring, which turns to golden-brown in winter.
This hardy, deciduous plant grows 10 to 20 inches (30.5 – 61 cm) a year and may reach more than 80 feet (24 m) in height when you leave it uncut. You will adore its torpedo-shaped, reddish-brown buds, silky-haired foliage, smooth bark with horizontal etchings, and the twin nuts.
Forsythia bushes (border forsythia, golden bells forsythia, showy forsythia) are hybrids from two Forsythia species. It is one of the first plants blooming in spring, which will transform your garden into pure yellow enjoyment after winter dormancy.
This deciduous shrub with lanceolate, fresh foliage is not demanding at all. It grows up to 8 to 10 feet (2.5 – 3 m) height by growth speed of 12 to 25 inches (30.5 – 63.5 cm) a year. However, your bush, even left un-pruned, probably won’t reach more than 5 feet (1.5 m) height.
There is an amazing fact about Forsythia. Every time you prune its branches, you can root them in a glass of water. After a few days, you can plant seedlings in the garden and enjoy new bushes.
Camellia Sasanqua is a broadleaf evergreen shrub or tree, which has a few forms, including dense, oval, erect, and pyramidal ones. These 6 to 10 feet (1.8 – 3 m) tall plants are well-known for their white, cream, gold, or pink, fragrant flowers, and lustrous, dark-green leaves.
You should choose the variety which will fit your yard best, including a few dwarf forms. Plant it directly in the garden or a container if you prefer it overwinter indoors. If you prune it appropriately and regularly, you will get a cute little tree, which will make your garden unique and beautiful.
8. Japanese Box
Japanese box (Japanese boxwood) is an evergreen, compact bush with glossy, dark-green, oval foliage and lovely, tiny, amazingly fragrant white blooms. It is an ideal choice for making topiary or forming gardening beds. Let it grow on a formal or informal way, depending on the landscape you prefer.
You can expect moderate growth until your plant reaches its full height of approximately 5 feet (1.5 m). Prune it regularly, and you will get probably the best box hedge for your garden, especially if you live in a warmer region. You can do that job at any time of year.
9. Green Leylandii
Green leylandii (Leyland cypress, conifer hedging, leylandi) is a fastest-growing evergreen, box-shaped hedging shrub you can find on the market. Plus, it is quite cheap if choosing a plant tall up to 4 feet (1.2 m). You can use it as an excellent sound barrier or a filter for air pollution, especially in the areas with high passing traffic.
This hardy and wind-tolerant plant, with green-yellow aromatic foliage, may grow about 3 feet (0.9 m) per year. Plant it in a place with full sun, and you will get fantastic hedge in a very short time. Trim it twice a year at the height that best suits the appearance of your yard.
Weigela is 3 to 6.5 feet (0.9 – 2 m) tall deciduous, dwarf shrub blooming several times throughout the growing season. I particularly enjoy the first flowers appearing from April to June. With lovely, trumpet-shaped white, yellow, pink, or purple blooms and elegant, dark purple-green foliage, this plant will bring a breath of sophistication in your garden.
It is an ideal shrub for you if your yard is quite small, regardless of whether you decide to prune it or let it grow naturally. You may make a combination of this hedging shrub with best companion plants to get a unique, magnificent landscape.
11. Thuja plicata
Thuja plicata (Western red cedar, Western arborvitae, Pacific Red Cedar) is fast-growing plant originating from North America. Trimmed at least once a year, this evergreen tree will form a fantastic ‘living wall’ for a short period since it grows 2.5 inches (6.3 cm) per year.
Plus, it is a hardy and wind-tolerate shrub, which means that you should plant it to protect your property, especially if you live in a region exposed to strong winds. You will adore this fantastic plant with aromatic, dark, fruity leaves, which can reach a fascinating 100 feet (30.5 m) height.
12. Blue Hydrangea
Hydrangeas may have white, cream, or pink flowers, but only Blue hydrangea has these gorgeous blue blooms I adore. Keep in mind that hydrangeas may change the flowers’ color depending on the chemistry of the ground. Actually, the low pH causes this magnificent blue color.
Pick out this timeless landscape shrub growing about 24 inches (61 cm) a year. Plant it as a hedge and enjoy abundant flourishing throughout summer. In general, you don’t need to prune this 4 to 6 (1.2 – 1.8 m) feet high plant every year, but do it if it overgrows standard size. Never prune more than 30% of the shrub to avoid jeopardizing blooming the following season.
13. Box Hedging
Box hedging (Buxus, common box, European box, boxwood) is a perfect choice for forming a small hedge along driveways or walkways. This slow-growing, shade-tolerant, evergreen plant grows up to 8 inches (20 cm) a year under ideal conditions.
If you like simple shapes and neat edges, this shrub with small leaves and tiny, elegant flowers is everything you need. In fact, after planting, your yard will get a perfect look with so little effort. It can reach 12 feet height, but regularly trimmed, it will make a regular rectangle as tall as you want. Just take care not to cut it below 1 foot (30.5 cm) in height if you wish your bush thrive.
Firethorns is a fast-growing hedging shrub, which may grow 2 feet (61 cm) a year until reaching 10 feet (3 m) height. You can plant these evergreens with white flowers and following bright yellow, orange, or red berries as an excellent security barrier. Not to mention their thorny branches and serrated leaf margins. They will definitely keep your yard safe from wildlife.
I like this ornamental shrub because it is simply beautiful and vigorous with all these 1 to 4 inches (2.5 – 10 cm) long glossy green foliage. If it is possible, keep its natural look and prune it just wayward branches which protrude and disturb the basic shape of the bush.
Hornbeam (European hornbeam, common hornbeam, horse beech, horn beech) is an excellent choice for you if you have a garden with the heavy clay ground. With attractive, serrated, oval green foliage, this hardy shrub is perfect for creating a neat formal hedge.
You can expect your plant grow approximately 1 to 2 feet (30.5 – 61 cm) a year. If you prune it regularly, this deciduous plant will be a gem of your yard, especially in autumn when developing samaras, its cute green-winged fruits. It’s up to you to let your shrub reaches a full size of 75 feet (23 m) height or to cut it to the desired size.
Many people grow these gentle hedges shrubs, but you should be extremely careful. They may overtake your yard and become a threat for other, native species. One of the efficient solutions is growing varieties which are sterile and can’t be self-sowed.
Enjoy beautiful white blossoms of this hardy, semi-evergreen or evergreen plant in July and August. You can let these flowers flourish and become an attractive destination for pollinating insects. However, you should know that the berries are highly poisonous. On the other hand, you can get the shrub cut and enjoy a green hedge with well-shaped edges.
Holly (English holly) is a valuable, 80 feet (24 m) tall plant, which you can trim to the desired height. It grows about 1 foot (30.5 cm) a year and can tolerate low temperatures of -4 F (-20 C). You can enjoy glossy, prickly, green foliage of this evergreen bush throughout a year without much maintenance.
Like many other gardeners, I like red berries appearing in winter. Plus, I find the ability of this shrub to regenerate from old wood really convenient. That gives you an opportunity to cut off your plant to a very low height if necessary, without the risk of killing it.
If you live in a neighborhood surrounded by a traffic jam, ugly buildings, or industrial plants, hedging shrubs are a perfect solution for you. They will significantly reduce noise and absorb pollutants. Also, you can grow these shrubs along a driveway to protect other flowers from people and animals.
Pick out the right evergreen or deciduous shrub or little tree and decide whether you prefer pruned or informally grown plants. That’s it. With minimal effort, you will get the unique and elegant yard you have dreamed of so much.
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My name is Peter Weeks, Writer of The Daily Gardener. Gardening has always been my passion, nothing gives me quite the satisfaction that feeling the soil sift through my fingers does. Give me a spade, a shovel, and a rake, and I can happily while away the day transforming a patch of land into a beautiful oasis. To me, gardening is life. It’s not a career. It’s not a job. It’s something that I truly love doing. It’s a way of life, a passion that I’ve no intention of ever giving up.