A guide to choosing a garden hedge.

The right hedge can be an ideal garden boundary, but the wrong hedge may bring problems. Use this information to help you choose the best hedge for your garden.

Why plant a hedge?

A good hedge has many benefits as a garden boundary, including:

  • Shelter, reducing wind strength better than a solid barrier
  • Filter, absorbing dust and noise
  • Privacy, as an effective visual screen
  • Security, a prickly hedge is a great deterrent
  • Beauty and interest from seasonal changes
  • Background texture and colour complement other plants
  • Wildlife, food and shelter for insects, birds and mammals
  • Weather-resistance - much better than fences
  • Money saving compared with most fencing
  • Long-lived - hedges can last hundreds of years

What do I need to consider?

Maintenance

A hedge requires a commitment to regular maintenance. All types need trimming at least once a year, others more often. Regular light pruning is better for the hedge, and easier to carry out, than infrequent heavy pruning. Modern power tools do the job quickly when the hedge is trimmed regularly.

High and overgrown hedges often need costly specialist equipment or professional help to get them back into shape - and create a huge heap of garden waste to dispose of.

Time to establish

Add a temporary screen of fine netting or windbreak material to create privacy while the hedge grows. A faster growing variety which establishes more quickly might not be suitable in the longer term as it keeps on growing. Ability to outgrow the site or cause damage Avoid the problems which can be caused


How do I choose a hedge?

  1. Think about why you want a hedge, e.g. for security, privacy or boundary marker. Choose the features that fit the type of hedge you want. Think about leaf colour, flowers, fruit, prickles, autumn interest, wind and salt tolerance.
  2. Decide how much maintenance work you can manage, as it will require a continuing commitment. Some hedges are fine with one cut a year, others need at least three. Fast-growing hedges don't stop at the height you want, so you must remove a lot of growth every year. Slow-growing hedges are much less effort.
  3. Most plants listed can be trimmed to make a hedge 1.5 - 2m (5 -7ft) tall and most will grow on any reasonable garden soil and in most parts of the country. For more help with local suitability, planting and maintenance consult your garden centre or plant nursery.
  4. Discuss the location of a boundary hedge and its continuing maintenance requirements with your neighbours. All sides of a hedge will need to be regularly trimmed if it is to be properly maintained and parts of it may only be accessible from your neighbour's garden.
  5. It would be advisable to check with your house deeds for any planning conditions or covenants which apply to your garden and may affect your choice of hedge.