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Hedging plants are the unsung heroes or heroines of the garden. If you believe they’re just for enclosing boundaries from your neighbours, then think again! 

Hedging is a fantastic way of achieving all sorts of different effects especially if you choose the right type of plant for the effect you want to create. They can be planted year-round and, if you buy between November and March, you can buy them bare rooted, without soil or containers, which works out much cheaper than those sold in containers.

Here are a few suggestions of what can be done to help totally revamp your garden along with 10 plant choices:

DIVIDING PARTS OF THE GARDEN  

Hedging plants make great room dividers allowing you to create different planting styles in other parts of the garden and for you and your guests to ‘discover’ other areas hidden from view.

1. Taxus baccata (common yew)

A lot of people think yew is slow growing, but it actually grows fast when young only slowing down as it gets older. This dense growing, thin leafed plant is a long-lived evergreen which can also be allowed to grow into a tree.  It makes a great hedge because of its ability to regenerate when pruned.

  • Evergreen foliage for interest all year round
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows higher than 12 metres
  • Well-drained
  • Full sun, full shade, or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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LIVING PICTURE FRAMES 

Short hedging plants can be used to frame flower borders turning them into living pictures.

2. Buxus sempervirens (common box)

This next plant has been used for centuries to create not only low growing hedges but also to clip into topiarised shapes. Most box cultivars are, like yew, dense growing, but their leaves are rounded and generally a lighter shade of green. They’re also much slower growing making them ideal for low hedging.

In recent years there have been problems with box blight devastating plants so it’s best to buy from a reputable hedging company. If you’ve had box blight in your garden within the last 6 years, choose another type of evergreen hedging as blight spores can remain in the soil for 6 years.

  • Evergreen foliage for interest all year round
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 8m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained
  • Full shade or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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CREATIVE SHAPES 

Some types of hedging are really easy to play around with cutting shapes into.  Discover your creative side and have a go at cutting animal shapes or undulating waves into the plants.

3. Ligustrum (privet)

Good old-fashioned privet is a great hedging plant to play around cutting shapes into as it’s evergreen and grows quickly. Also, it’s not fussy about the soil it grows in and regenerates quickly so it’s great if you’re not 100% happy with the shapes you create first time round!

  • Evergreen foliage for interest all year round
  • Hardy
  • Grows up to 12m tall
  • Well-drained
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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COLOUR CHANGES

Beech and hornbeam plants change leaf colour from green to a gorgeous shade of gold, orange, bronze and sometimes deep purple in the autumn. These coloured leaves stay on the plants until spring when suddenly all the old leaves drop revealing new bright green leaves. By choosing either of these types for your hedging you give yourself a 6 monthly colour change without having to do anything other than cut them twice a year.

4. Fagus sylvatica (beech)

Beech make fantastic colour changing hedges and will grow in sun or part shade and can be bought in sizes from 40cm to 2m high. It can be grown in most types of soil, although be warned it won’t do well in heavy clay, waterlogged or drought prone soil.

  • Green foliage in spring and summer that turns golden brown in autumn
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows higher than 12m
  • Well-drained or moist, but well-drained
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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5. Carpinus betulus (Hornbeam)

Hornbeam looks very similar to beech although its leaves won’t stay on quite as long as the beech leaves. The autumn/winter leaf colours aren’t quite as vibrant as beech, but if you’ve got poor soil conditions then hornbeam will tolerate them far better than beech. So it makes a good alternative lookalike.

  • Green foliage in spring and summer that turns yellow in autumn
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows higher than 12m
  • Well-drained or moist but well-drained
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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WILDLIFE

All living hedges are better for wildlife than fencing as they create habitats for creatures to live, hide, hibernate, and feed from. Hedging companies sell mixed native hedging for maximum wildlife benefit.  These are generally all deciduous with a mix of lovely spring blossom, autumn leaf colour and coloured berries.

Therefore, if helping wildlife is one of your main aims, mixed native hedging is the one for you. Here are 5 choices of trees that can be grown successfully either on their own or mixed as hedging:

6. Viburnum opulus (guelder rose)

This handsome plant will give scented white flowers in spring, gorgeous red leafed autumn colour followed by bright red berries much loved by birds.

  • White flowers in spring and summer. In autumn the foliage turns pink or red.
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 8m tall
  • Well-drained or moist but well-drained
  • Full shade, full sun, or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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7. Acer campestre (field maple)

Next is a fast-growing tree whose leaves turn a glorious shade of yellow during autumn. It will grow in most soil conditions and is easily maintained.

  • Green foliage in spring and summer that turns yellow or red in autumn
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows higher than 12m
  • Moist but well-drained
  • Partial shade or full sun
  • Exposed
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8. Crataegus monogyna (hawthorn)

Also commonly known as May Blossom due to the prolific white flowers produced in spring, it has delightful red berries appearing during the summer months.

This hedging plant is perfect for anyone wanting bird friendly hedging as it supports more than 150 species of insect which in turn provide rich food for blue tits and wrens. Its densely covered branches with sharp thorns make it a safe place for birds to nest in.

  • Cream flowers in spring and dark red berries in autumn
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 8m tall
  • Well-drained or moist but well-drained
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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9. Rosa rugosa (red Japanese rose) ‘Rubra’

Unlike most other roses these do well in sandy soil and aren’t bothered by coastal winds as long as the soil isn’t waterlogged.  They also have highly scented flowers throughout the summer followed by large brightly coloured red hips.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 1.5m tall
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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10. Prunus spinosa (blackthorn)

Lastly is blackthorn which grows in most soil types and exposed conditions. It’s one of the first trees to blossom in early spring with a profusion of pretty, white flowers brightening the garden at a time when not much else is flowering. Its dense, thorny foliage makes it a great choice for a security hedge.

This also makes it a wonderful haven for birds and other small wildlife and comes with the added bonus of dark fruit ready to pick in November to turn into delicious sloe gin.

  • Flowers in spring and fruit in autumn
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 4m tall
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
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So, whether you’re wanting to create boundaries, soundproof your garden or simply add some height these picks will without a doubt deliver. Foliage, flowers and fruits will bring interest as well as food and shelter for wildlife.

Find out more about shrubs, trees and hedges, read this:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:

Shrubs, trees and hedges
Pinterest
Pinterest Board


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