Why have a hedge?
Without doubt there are huge benefits in having a hedge for a boundary rather than a fence or a wall.
· They act as wind and sound breaks. Sheltering the garden from winds, filtering us from noise.
· Hedges support many species of wild life.
· They are economical as their durability to the elements and life span exceeds fences and wall.
· They can be beautiful, reflecting the seasons and providing a canvas to enhance other plants
How to choose the right hedge for your garden.
- Do you want the hedge to be purely ornamental
- All one variety or mixture of species.
- Formal or informal
- Dwarf or Tall
- Edible fruits
- Is it to be a strong boundary to hold live stock at bay.
- Is the site exposed? Consider the growing conditions.
These are the sort of considerations which will help you determine which variety or varieties of hedge to plant.
The choice of suitable hedge species is vast and the appearance equally varied. Here are some suggested native varieties :
Crataegus Hawthorn (Hedge Thorn, Quick Thorn, May Tree)
This is the most common form of hedge in the UK. It grows quickly. Its tough and it produces red berries(Haws). The prickles make it a strong barrier. This is deciduous hedge that mixes well with other species.
Prunus spinosea Blackthorn
It is slower growing than Hawthorn but it benefits from being extremely strong and impenetrable. The stems traditionally make perfect walking sticks. A deciduous thorny plant, related to the plum. Black sloes are excellent for making Gin.
Corylus avellana Hazel
This is deciduous. It grows very dense. Strong flexible stems make it idea wood for building hurdles. It is noted for lovely catkins and cobs(hazel nuts)
Fagus sylvatica Common Beach
A golden brown hedge. Easy to maintain as a formal boundary with regular clipping. The leaves persist quite well through the autumn and into the winter. Slow to establish and does not establish well in wet heavy ground but it is great in all other situations. It certainly makes one of the beast hedges around.
This can create a good robust screen. Ideal where a fairly wide hedge is required. It copes well in clay or chalk soils. Autumn leaves usually remain attached until spring. Catkins appear in late spring followed by clusters of winged nutlets.
Acer Campestre Maple
Hardy and attractive. The wood is has tough ribbed bark often used for carving. The foliage is a rich golden colour in the Autumn. Small yellowy green flowers open with the leaves in late spring later producing winged fruits we call helicopters! It grows well in limestone areas.
Viburnum opulus sterile (Guelda Rose,Snow ball tree)
This makes a strong hedge. Plants producing globular white flowers in June, followed by bunches of red berries(which the birds absolutely love.) Rich Autumn leaf colour.
Euonymus europa Spindle
A quick growing deciduous variety. White flowers are produced in summer. This has very attractive Autumn foliage and rather dainty unusual red pink fruits with orange seeds. It will thrive in most soils.
Rosa canina Dog Rose
A wild rose. This is very fast growing native plant. Very hardy with a strong growing habit .It has a single pink or white flowers, followed by hips in the Autumn.
Cornus Dog wood
A deciduous shrub that has very attractive red, yellow or lime green stems to admire in winter. Leaves can be green, silver and variegated some turning red in Autumn..
Saxon Hedge, Native Hedge
In recent year we have seen a revival in the original Saxon hedge. This is a mixture of native plants which in the right blend provide a good balance between a strong boundary and an attractive wild life habitat. Ideally it should contain 50% Hawthorn,20% Blackthorn,10% Field Maple, 5 % Hazel, 5% Dog Rose (Rosa Canina) 5% Viburnum Opulus (Guelda Rose) and 5% Spindle( Euonymus europa) Recommended planting instructions 4 plants per meter (3.25ft), in a double row at staggered spacing of 45cm apart (1.5ft) This rule applies to most bare rooted hedging. Encourage root growth and establishment by planting with fish blood and bone meal and where the structure needs improving enhance it with soil conditioner.
Many evergreen shrubs can be planted as a hedge. Its comon for us to plant a selection of intersting evergreen close together and crop them into a hedge. Mixing a hedge allows for a diversity of foliage, flowers and berries throughout the year. Below are a few evergeens that would be suitable. This is not the limit to your choice but these are easy to grow evergreens that will mix well.
Chinese honeysuckleA very popular hedge. It has small glossy dark green leaves. Establishing quickly. The growth is soft, making this an easy hedge to penetrate if you push against it for this reason it is often grown in front of a fence. It makes a good screen rather than strong boundary.
This has large laurel like spotted yellow leaves or green leaves. Both male and female plants to get berries but the female plants tends to produce most fruit. It grows very successfully in sun and dense shade and in any soil. Plant every.9m (3ft) It grows to 2.5m (8ft)
Ceanothus Californian Lilac
Beautiful blue flower and small rich glossy green leaves. Most varieties flower in May and June. Suits a more sheltered position. Plant every 9m (3ft) Eventual height is 3m (9ft).
Dense glossy green Leaves work well as a wind break. This flowers very freely in the summer with pink red or white flowers. It thrives in any soil. Plant every.9m (3ft) grows to 2.5m (8ft). Ilex aquifolium Holly
This is a slow growing but makes an impenetrable evergreen hedge. Usually the female plants bear the berries. It can produce good garden interest in dark green variegated, silver and yellow varieties. Plant every .8m (2.5ft)
Medium to large foliage shrubs available in evergreen and deciduous varieties. Silver, yellow and variegated foliage varieties. Grows to 3m (9ft) planted at.9m (3ft) spacing
Noted for there rich red new growth. Leathery shiny leaves similar to a Rhododendron.A tough large growing shrub. Very attractive red new leaves in spring. Grows 3m(9ft) at 9m(3ft) spacing.
Prunus Lustanicia Portuguese Laurel .
These frequently make good tall thick foliage hedges. Excellent for privacy. Upright in habit with small dark green leaves and red stems. They will grow to 3m(9ft)at 9m(3ft)spacing.
Laurocerasus Common Laurel. Glossy oval pointed leaves producing white flowers in spring. Very bushy and hardy and will grow in all soils except waterlogged sites.They will grow to 4m(13ft) planted at 9m(3ft)
Marbled White. A very pretty variety with white markings on the leaves.Bushy and tough .Growing to 2.5m(8ft) planted at 8m(2.5ft)spacing.
A reliable old favourite found in most Church yards. Medium sized dark green leaves. White or pink blossom in early spring. It’s grows around .45m(1.5ft) a year. Grows in sunny or part shade conditions and likes moist soil. Plant 80cm 2.5 ft apart.
Ligustrum ovafoluim Privet
Semi evergreen ,deep green leaves ideal formal hedge. Suits almost all soils. Golden Privet is a good alternative with its bright foliage. Plant every
45m(1.5ft) apart. It grows to 2.5m(8ft).
Taxus Baccata (common yew)
The English yews commonly seen in churchyards make one of the best long-lived dividing hedge. It provides a dark background for flower beds and borders.Plant 75cm (2.5 ft0
A large family of deciduous and evergreen varieties grown for their remarkable display of berries in the autumn. Small white flowers in June. Plant every 9m(3ft).
Buxus sempervirens common box
Grow up to 6ft and requires regular trimming. Plant 30 cm (1 ft )apart.