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Defining your property’s boundaries, providing privacy, enhancing security and giving you shelter from the wind, garden hedges are an outstanding finishing touch for your garden. Also reducing the impact of both traffic noise and pollution, hedges are great choices in urban and suburban areas. They can be used to partition different sections of your outside space and could be planted to shield less attractive features of your garden including recycling bins and composters.

In other words, hedges are both aesthetically pleasing and functional.

There are many reasons to feature hedges in your garden, whether they are planted independently or combined with fences and walls.

But why choose evergreen hedges?

 

What are the benefits of evergreen hedges?

Evergreen species do not shed their leaves in autumn and so give you gorgeous greenery throughout the year. That’s particularly important if you are planting a hedge for privacy, as a windbreak or to conceal a less attractive area of your property.

With evergreens, your leaf blower or rake will see far less action in autumn. Minimising the need for leaf clearing will afford you more time to concentrate on the enjoyable aspects of gardening. Better still, if you plant a native species, you will create a haven for wildlife including insects, birds and small mammals.

However, it is worth baring in mind that evergreen hedges will generally require maintenance and quite possibly an investment in a hedge trimmer.

 

Which species of evergreen should you plant?

Evergreen hedges such as clipped Buxus (box hedging) or Taxus (yew) boast a formal look when well-maintained while colourful foliage, flowers or berries create an informal feel and will lend interest to your space. You will find beautiful species that complement your garden and your home. 

You have many exciting choices to explore and its worth doing your research before making those choices. But here are our recommendations:

 

Common Yew (Taxus baccata)

  • Known as the King of hedges
  • Dense and vibrant green foliage with red berries in autumn
  • Hardy
  • Grows in all soil types and tolerates shade
  • Can grow to 12m in height but is easy to restrict to 1m if required
  • Excellent filter for noise, wind and pollution
  • Easy to trim and otherwise low maintenance
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Garden Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium)

  • Dense semi-evergreen that flowers in summer
  • Black berries in winter
  • Hardy and fast-growing
  • Can grow to 5m in height but easy to restrict to 1m
  • Will thrive in most conditions but does not like wet sites
  • Greater leaf fall in coastal areas
  • Valuable species for pollinators
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Leyland Cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii)

  • Extremely fast growing (1m per year)
  • Great for screening
  • Columnar habitat
  • Dense green foliage
  • Requires regular trimming as can reach heights of 30m
  • Tolerates most soils and favours full sun
  • Accidental hybrid not found in the wild
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Cherry Laurel Hedging (Prunus laurocerasus)

  • Large-leaved, dense evergreen
  • White flowers in spring followed by cherry-like fruits
  • Hardy and fast growing
  • Can reach up to 8m in height but easy to restrict to 1m
  • Favours normal or clay soils
  • Tolerates partial shade
  • Low maintenance 
  • Excellent for screening and as a windbreak
  • Great for pollinators
Pruned cherry laurel hedge in the garden. Pruning a Prunus laurocerasus bush

English Holly (Ilex aquifolium)

  • Strong, dark and glossy leaves
  • Slow growing
  • Grows up to 8m in height but easy to restrict by pruning
  • Hardy
  • Female plants produce white flowers in spring followed by red berries in autumn
  • One of the few native evergreens
  • Great for security
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Photinia fraseri 'Red Robin'

  • Compact and bushy with bright red leaves that turn green as they mature
  • Grows to 2m in height
  • White flowers in spring
  • Low maintenance
  • Provides year-round colour
  • Favours full sun
  • Prefers fertile, well-drained soil
A photinia fraseri red robin hedge with red and green leaves, in a garden in Attica, Greece

California Lilac (Ceanothus)

  • Likes a sunny, sheltered, well-drained position
  • Dislikes wet conditions
  • Mostly hardy in the UK
  • Grows up to 6m in height
  • Beautiful blue flowers from late spring until early summer
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How do you choose your evergreen hedge?

There’s a wonderful array of evergreens to choose from and often several different species or cultivars of a single plant genus to consider. For instance, there are around 60 species and cultivars of ceonathus. To select the perfect hedging you should:

  • Identify any specific requirements that you have such as the height of hedge you wish to achieve, the level of maintenance you can cope with and whether you favour an informal or formal look.
  • Think about whether your garden would benefit from colourful foliage, flowers and berries.
  • Take a look at some of the hedges growing locally to see which species you like, and which appear to be thriving.
  • Consider the soil conditions and aspect then choose evergreens that will tolerate your site.
  • Select an informal or native species to attract wildlife.

How do you plant evergreen hedges?

You should follow the instructions provided with your plant or plants, but most evergreens are best planted between October and March. Try to source plants that are 1-2 years old with bare roots as these will take root quickly and are less susceptible to transplant stress. 

  • Clear the planting area with a mower or brush cutter
  • Strip an area roughly 50cm wide and as long as you wish the hedge to be.
  • Wait till the ground to oxygenates the soil
  • Remove any stones and any roots
  • Enrich the soil with manure or compost
  • Create a hole for each plant (follow the guidance provided with plants as to size of hole)
  • Place plants in the holes and then cover with the excavated earth.
  • Water each plant.
  • Consider mulching around each plant to limit weed growth

 

How do you maintain an evergreen Hedge?

Evergreen hedges should be watered according to the specific needs of the plant species, the climate, the season, and the soil type. Research the needs of your chosen species and establish a maintenance routine. It is important to control weeds as they will deprive your hedge of water and nutrients.

Monitor the health of your hedging and check for signs of aphids, defoliating insects and fungi. You may need to apply natural or synthetic pesticides. Any seedlings that have not taken root should be replaced as soon as possible.

Regular pruning in the early years will encourage dense growth and intertwining branches. Pruning should be confined to the lateral branches and the crown as most evergreens will not tolerate drastic pruning.

Adult evergreens should be pruned or trimmed at the end of the winter to contain growth, to remove broken or diseased branches and to regulate the shape of the hedge. Fast growing formal hedges may be trimmed every 6 - 8 weeks during spring and summer to maintain their shape. Slower growing varieties will only require one or two trims during this period.

 

How tall should your hedge be?

The appropriate height for your hedge will depend on its primary purpose and its potential impact on your neighbours.

Tall hedges (those over 2 metres in height) may block light from your neighbour’s property and your own. They can overly dominate the landscape and they are difficult to maintain. Leyland cypress hedges are particularly notorious for inspiring disputes. Local authorities do have the power to order that hedges are cut back but not that they are removed.

Hedges that border the front of your property are best kept quite low. In addition to restricting light, tall hedges will negatively impact the curb appeal of your home. Hedges grown in your back garden to conceal unsightly areas, to give you privacy or to provide windbreaks should be taller but are best trimmed back to around 2 metres if they border a neighbouring property.

Over time you will establish the appropriate height for your hedge. It isn’t worth falling out with your neighbours over your hedge and it won’t help you or the value of your property if you allow a hedge to grow out of control.

 

What’s best, a hedge or a wall?

A garden wall will require far less maintenance than a hedge but will be more costly to build than a hedge is to grow. Walls don’t help wildlife and they can give you utilitarian boundaries that may make your garden feel boxy, narrow or uninteresting. It’s easier to create a visually appealing outside space with the greenery and colour that hedging can bring.

If you wish to feature both a wall and hedging, why not build a low wall and plant hedging on top of it? Alternatively, build two walls with a gap between them and then plant a hedge in the gap. Always ensure that your wall can bear the load of the hedge and that the roots of your hedge won’t undermine your wall.

 

What’s your perfect hedge?

The right hedge in the right place can enhance both your outside space and your quality of life. Only you can decide the precise nature of your hedge but it always worth considering evergreen hedging. There are many amazing options that will lend colour, beauty and interest to your garden throughout the year. Hedging doesn’t need to cost the earth and will promote biodiversity. What’s not to like about evergreen hedges?

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