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An Introduction to Garden Hedges

An Introduction to Garden Hedges

The humble garden hedge has a surprisingly wide variety of uses and there are many types of hedge, some of which have specific uses while others are more general purpose.

Hedges are ideal for security and privacy and provide thick yet attractive screening. They can also be used as backgrounds to other garden plants and features or simply be enjoyed in their own right. A neat hedge combined with a classic garden arch makes an attractive and practical garden feature.

A hedging plant should be chosen for its leaf size, natural growth habit or texture if sculpturing or pruning is to be employed. Size wise, hedges range from tall (Yew) to small edging box or lavender types.

It is important to take into account local climate conditions, as some plants such as Yew require quite formal treatment, while others such as Hawthorn require much more informal attention.

Large plants such as Laurel are generally planted as a single row, while smaller types such as Blackthorn, Beech or Hawthorn are planted in staggered row to encourage greater density.

When pruning or clipping your hedge, you should make the hedge narrower at the top than the bottom. This allows light to fall across all parts of the hedge, encouraging leaf growth even at ground level where it may otherwise be too dark for successful growth and lower branches will become quite bare and die away.

Maintaining to Garden Hedges

Flowering Hedges

Flowering evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs can be used for hedges, especially where ornamental effect is a top priority, but where there may be insufficient room for border flowers. Plants with a naturally bushy habit are best for this purpose such as shrub roses, Berberis, Hebes and Escallonias.


Fedges are a cross between and hedge and a fence and are often used where space is too limited to accommodate the width of a hedge, or where a boundary is required to be erected straight away. The normal way to form a fedge is to grow a climbing plant such as Ivy, over a chicken wire or a chain link fence. Add timber posts to give the fedge a more formal appearance.

Mixed Hedges

Mixed Hedges consist of a variety of are made up of a variety of native species that in addition to providing screening also creates a refuge for different wildlife. Traditional mixed hedges might include Hawthorn, Hazel, Elderberry and Holly depending on local conditions.

Single Species Hedges

These are made up of a single species of a plant, such as Privet, Beech or Yew. They can be used as neutral backdrops for other more ornamental plants or simply used as to divide parts of the garden or enjoyed on their own.

Formal Hedges

These are indispensable in formal gardens not only for providing structure but for contributing to the overall tone of the space. The amount of formality afforded by the hedge depends upon the plant type and the frequency and style of pruning, with the most formal hedges being closely clipping Yew or Box or one of the smaller leaved conifers. Since Yew and Box respond so well to very close clipping, they are popular as subjects for topiary work.

Stilt Hedge

In this variation on the formal hedge, dense growth is carried high on straight parent trunks or stems. Used frequently in formal gardens in the past, they were often planted in double rows running parallel to each other.