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Consider Some of the Best Hedge Plant Ideas for Your Landscape

Shrubs and trees put together can form hedges that serve a variety of different purposes. While they are mostly used as windbreakers or privacy screens, a hedge that’s well taken care of can really spruce up the yard and increase the value of the property.

What are Hedge Plants?View in gallery

Today, we’re going to take a deeper look into that topic, offering some of the best hedge plant ideas that we could come across.

What are Hedge Plants?

A hedge or hedgerow is a line of trees or shrubs that are trained to form a barrier or mark the boundary of an area. They are often used to separate crops from each other. The first hedges were initially enclosed land for cereals during the Neolithic Age. They were built at varying heights and sizes, and the farms were typically about 5 to 10 hectares.

A hedge can consist of several species or a single species. In many cases, it can be mixed at random. Some hedges are especially effective at keeping livestock out. Maclura pomifera and blackthorn are two of the most widely used hedges in North America.

Hedges VS Shrubs

Shrubs are woody plants with several stems which often reach a height of maximum of 15 feet. Shrubs can be evergreen or deciduous, and their height can range considerably based on the species in question. Shrubs can be allowed to grow naturally or clipped and sculpted. They are sometimes pruned into several different shapes for ornamental purposes.

Several shrubs placed one next to another will form a hedge. Trees can also be used to form a tall hedge. Hedges are made up of many shrubs that serve diverse purposes. Hedges can be used to create windbreaks, privacy screens, and the likes, and are available in a variety of shapes to give interest to the landscape. They are typically well-kept, with different spacing and trimming requirements than shrubs.

How to Trim & Prune Hedges

How to Trim & Prune HedgesView in gallery

In order to understand how to trim and prune hedges, you should first know that they are divided into three groups, with each group having its own trimming and pruning requirements.

Group 1 consists of upright plants, and here is how to trim and prune them:

  • For evergreen plants, you need to cut back all the stems after planting and repeat the process next year, at the same time.
  • Deciduous plants need to be cut back to 6 inches to one foot when planting. During the hot season, lightly trim the side branches to encourage growth. The next year, cut back the growth by half.
  • Maintenance trimming is performed between May and September. You can trim back the sides and the top every four to six weeks.

Group 2 gathers stocky deciduous plants that have a bushy base:

  • When you plant them, cut back the leading shoots by ⅓ and repeat the process in the second winter.
  • Maintenance trimming is done each year in June and August.

Group 3 is where most evergreens and conifers can be found:

  • When planting them, don’t prune the leading shoot, but cut back side shoots that appear straggly. During the summer, trim the side shoots and tie the leading shoot to a support system.
  • For maintenance trimming, you can cut the hedges one to three times in the hot season, but no later than August.

Best Hedges for Your Climate 

Naturally, you want your hedges to thrive, which means that your choice of plants needs to take into consideration the climate in the area where you live and make sure the hedges you want to plant can actually grow in that area. Here are some tips to help you with this decision:

For cold climates

Although many hedging plants can tolerate cold seasons, they should not be considered frost-hardy. Some cold-resistant hedges are laurustinus, oleaster, and photinia. Holly would also make a good choice. Some plants can be surprisingly resilient despite losing their leaves. Beeches are among the most notable examples. They can grow well in cold conditions. Although beech is a deciduous species, it will still keep its leaves dry in cold areas.

For hot climates

Korean boxwood can grow to 2 feet high and does well in hot, dry conditions. Photinia is a fast-growing plant with reddish-bronze leaves that turn red in spring. The Indian Hawthorn is a low mounding plant that has dark green leaves with pink flowers in the spring. It also has taller varieties that can grow to about 5 feet tall. Some other shrubs that grow well in desert climates include pineapple guava, pittosporum, and the Japanese privet.

For dry climates

When selecting a plant for dry sites, the leaves can tell us a lot about how well it will perform in the soil. Purple Beech is a great choice for dry soils. Its attractive leaves, which are held in the winter, can be seen throughout the spring and summer. Being drought-tolerant is only one of the many features that make Buxus a great choice for low formal hedges. Rosa Rugosa Hedging is a great choice for keeping borders bright and attractive. It has large pink flowers in summer and butter-yellow autumn.

For wet climates

Although plants do need water, wet areas can make their soil incredibly heavy and restrict the growth of their roots. It is important to look for a plant that can handle these conditions. Although it’s not ideal to have hedges in wet conditions, some highly popular hedges such as the blackthorn and the hawthorn can still thrive in waterlogged soils. If you’re looking for a more vigorous hedge that will flower profusely, look for rosa rugosa and weigela. Both of these are excellent candidates for wet sites.

Best Hedge Plant Ideas

Japanese Holly

Japanese HollyView in gallery

Ilex crenata is a box-leaved holly that is native to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China. It is a small tree or evergreen with a trunk diameter of up to 20 cm. It has dark green leaves with a crenate margin. The flowers are white, with four-lobed leaves, and it has a black drupe fruit. Ilex crenata is a fast-growing plant that features dense evergreen foliage. It is commonly used as a low hedging plant. The Japanese holly has oval leaves and is one of the best hedge plants around.

  • Sun needs: partial to full sun
  • Soil needs: well-drained, acidic soil
  • USDA growing zones: 5 – 8

Rose of Sharon

Rose of SharonView in gallery

Rose of Sharon is a name that has been applied to various flowering plants. It also has a biblical meaning which is quite ambiguous because of the plant’s unclear identity. The rose of Sharon is a member of a family of mallow shrubs. The rose of Sharon is a deciduous shrub that can be used in hedges, as it has a continuous sequence of late-summer colors that last for a season. It can have beautiful and vivid colors such as lavender, red, but also white and light blue.

  • Sun needs: partial shade to full sun
  • Soil needs: moist and rich
  • USDA growing zones: 5 – 9

Canadian Hemlock

Eastern hemlock is a coniferous tree native to North America and, while it goes by many different names, is also known as “pruche du Canada”. The eastern hemlock is very long-lived and can grow well in shade. It generally has a height of about 31 meters and a diameter of about 1.5 meters. Outstanding trees have grown to heights of up to 53 meters.

The trunk is straight and monopodial, with a conic crown. The brown bark is deeply fissured, and the entire surface is covered in a yellow-brown color. The twigs are yellow-brown with a red-brown pulvinic. These leaves are typically 15 to 20 mm long, but they can also be short or long. They are typically toothed, and the underside of the leaf has two broad and clearly visible stomat bands. The seed cone is ovoid in shape and measures about 1.5 to 2.5 cm long. The scales are ovate or cuneate in shape and have a length of about 8 to 12 mm. Although Canadian hemlocks are native to North America, they can be used in hedges and are often sold as such throughout the US.

  • Sun needs: partial shade to partial sun
  • Soil needs: acidic, rich, moist
  • USDA growing zones: 3 – 7

Boxwood Shrubs

Boxwood ShrubsView in gallery

Buxus is a genus of about 70 species that consists of boxwood and box-shaped leaves. Most of the species are tropical or subtropical, with the exception of some Asian species that are frost-tolerant. These slow-growing shrubs and trees grow to 2 to 12 meters tall. The leaves are lanceolate, have a rounded shape, and are small. The flowers are pale yellow-green, with both male and female seeds. The genus has three genetically distinct sections: the Eurasian species, the African species, and the Madagascan species. Boxwood hedges are an elegant addition to any garden, as they are deer-resistant and have been around for centuries.

  • Sun needs: well-drained soil, 6.8 to 7.5 pH range
  • Soil needs: partial or dappled shade
  • USDA growing zones: 6 – 8

Arborvitae

ArborvitaeView in gallery

Also known as Thuja, Arborvitae is a genus of coniferous trees. There are five species in the group, two of which are native to North America and three of which are native to eastern Asia. Thuja are evergreen trees that grow from 10 to 200 feet tall. Their leaves are scale-like and have needle-like leaves. The male cones are inconspicuous, and they are located at the tips of twigs. The female cones are about 2 cm long at maturity. Their scales are thin, leathery, and have a pair of narrow lateral wings that are angled slightly.

Thuja are small to large trees with flattened branchlets. Their leaves are flattened and have resin-glands. The younger leaves have erect, free apices, and the older leaves have sharp, erect, and caplets. The solitary flowers are produced in terminal growth with 2 – 6 pairs of pollen-sacked sporophylls. The seed cones have a persistent and overlapping shape and are basifixed. Arborvitae are very popular privacy screens and windbreaks.

  • Sun needs: partial to full sun
  • Soil needs: well-drained loams, but tolerant to multiple soil types
  • USDA growing zones: 2 – 7

Privet Hedges

Privet HedgesView in gallery

The privet is a flowering plant that is in the genus Ligustrum. It has about 50 species, which are usually erect or deciduous trees. Privet is often used to refer to naturalized or invasive plants. The name Ligustrume was originally used for a type of shrub that can be used for privacy hedges. Aside from creating hedges, privet is also used in flower arrangements and horticulture. The tree species can be used as a street tree in Europe. Privet was very popular in Britain during the Second World War, replacing the ornamental railings around properties that were lost to the government in 1941.

  • Sun needs: partial to full sun
  • Soil needs: multiple soil varieties
  • USDA growing zones: 5 – 8

English Holly

Ilex aquifolium is a type of flowering plant that is associated with the genus Ilex. It is a native to western and south-eastern Europe, as well as southwest Asia. This species has a great capacity to thrive in different conditions. This plant can grow almost 2 meters tall. It has a straight trunk and a pyramidal crown. It is rarely fully grown and often associated with Christmas. It has bright red berries and glossy green leaves.

The English Holly has a woody stem that is about 40 to 80 cm wide, and it grows to about 10 to 25 meters tall. Its leaves are evergreen, and it has a bright green upper surface and dark green undersides. The white, four-lobed, pollinated, and male plants are dioecious. The female flowers are small and white, and the male ones are yellow. The female plants on which the fruit appears are required to fertilize them. The bright red or yellow fruit is very bitter and is rarely eaten until late winter. English holly has a tougher texture than Japanese holly and makes a better choice for hedges.

  • Sun needs: partial shade to full sun
  • Soil needs: fertile, well-drained, slightly acidic
  • USDA growing zones: 5 – 9

Mountain Laurels

The mountain laurel, also known as Kalmia latifolia, is a species of flowering plant that can be found in the eastern United States. It is a member of the Ericaceae family. Kalmia latifolia has long, narrow, and sometimes pentagonal leaves. It has a single flower with a pink center. The other flowers are arranged in groups. This plant is native to rocky slopes and mountainous regions. It thrives in acid soils and can grow in large thickets. It can become a tree if it gets established. The mountain laurel is a great choice for hedges. It has a great spring-summer color and is very tolerant of cold.

  • Sun needs: partial shade to full sun
  • Soil needs: well-drained, rich, cool, acidic
  • USDA growing zones: 4 – 9

Forsythia

ForsythiaView in gallery

These early-spring flowering shrubs are among the first plants to flower in spring. They are best pruned lightly to avoid damaging their stems. The upright habit of this shrub has arching branches and it grows to about 3 to 4 meters high. The bright yellow flowers appear on one to two-year-old growth. The hybrid is believed to be a cross between the Forsythia viridissima and Fasciosa fortunei. It was discovered in 1878 in Germany. The hybrid is drought-tolerant and can be grown in full sun or partial shade. It has bright yellow flowers with a red center. This forsythia is one of the earliest to flower.

  • Sun needs: full sun
  • Soil needs: well-drained
  • USDA growing zones: 5 – 8

Azaleas

AzaleasView in gallery

These beautiful flowering shrubs are usually found in the former sections of the Rhododendron family. They bloom in the spring and summer in the temperate Northern Hemisphere and the winter in the southern hemisphere. They prefer to reside near or under trees. Hundreds of years of breeding have produced thousands of different azalea cultivars. They require little fertilizer and are slow-growing. Azaleas are native to various continents. They are planted abundantly in southeastern US and southern Asia. Azaleas can be grown as evergreen or deciduous. Their flowers are far superior to that of privets. The Stewartstonian is a good choice for a hedge.

  • Sun needs: partial shade
  • Soil needs: well-drained, evenly moist, acidic, fertile
  • USDA growing zones: 5 – 8

Barberry Bushes

The Japanese barberry, formally known as Thunberg’s barberry, is a flowering plant that is native to Japan and eastern Asia. It has small deciduous leaves that turn red in the autumn and bright yellow flowers in spring. This plant has deeply grooved, spiny, and occasionally tridentine-shaped branches with a single spine at each shoot node. The small, oval leaves are greenish to blue-green, and the flowers are pale yellow, with a central spike that elevates to a height of about 5 to 8 millimeters. The edible fruit is a bright red to orange-red ovoid berry with a single seed. It’s a favorite for hedges because of its bright red berries that appear in winter.

  • Sun needs: partial to full sun
  • Soil needs: well-drained
  • USDA growing zones: 4 – 8

Yew Bushes

Yew BushesView in gallery

These trees or shrubs are slow-growing and can reach heights of about 2.5 to 20 meters. They have flat, dark-green leaves with red bark. Their stems are long and narrow, with the leaf bases angled slightly to align with the sides. The seed cones are modified, with each cone containing a single seed. The arils develop into a bright red berry-like structure, which is eaten by birds when the seed is contained.

The male cones are 3 to 6 mm across and have a yellow center. They shed their pollen in late spring. Some botanists treat the yews as subspecies or varieties of one widespread species. This treatment is referred to as Taxus baccata. Among the many varieties of needle-bearing evergreens, few are more popular than yew bushes. They are also known to tolerate shade.

  • Sun needs: depends on variety, from full shade to sun
  • Soil needs: neutral pH, well-drained
  • USDA growing zones: depends on the variety grown, zones 2 – 10

Must-Have Tools for Hedges

When you want to take care of your hedge shrubs and trees, you’re going to have to invest in a few gardening tools (unless you hire a professional gardener/landscapist). Next up, we’re going to show you some of the best tools for taking proper care of your hedge shrubs.

BLACK+DECKER BEHT150 Hedge Trimmer

BLACK+DECKER BEHT150 Hedge TrimmerView in gallery

This is an electric hedge trimmer that can be purchased alone, or in kit options that include safety glasses, gloves, or a leaf collection bin. Designed with a 17-inch hardened steel blade, this hedge trimmer is powered by a 3.2 amp motor that works for trimming branches of up to ⅝ inches. It has a cord retention feature that keeps the unit plugged in and a built-in T-handle for better control and grip while using the trimmer.

Kynup 8.6″ Gardening Shears

Kynup 8.6" Gardening ShearsView in gallery

Every person who is interested in keeping their lawn in good shape is going to need a good pair of gardening shears. This inexpensive option is also one of the best ones around, offering great value for the money. They are made with quality steel and use an arc system to reduce the pressure and make cutting easier. It works with branches of multiple diameters and truly is a must-have tool for caring for your hedge shrubs.

Fiskars 391461-1003 Bypass Lopper

Fiskars 391461-1003 Bypass LopperView in gallery

The Fiskars Bypass Lopper is a great choice for easy, quick cuts on tree branches. It features a steel blade that stays sharp and a low-friction coating that helps prevent it from getting damaged. Its comfortable grip and shock-absorbing bumpers make it more durable. It features a steel blade that’s designed to provide a cleaner cut than traditional ones. It works with a variety of branch diameters and comes with cushioned grips and shock-absorbing bumpers for more comfortable use.

OARA Garden Hedge Shears

OARA Garden Hedge ShearsView in gallery

These high-quality carbon steel hedge shears are ideal for shaping and pruning various plants. The soft vinyl cushion provides added comfort. The shock-absorbing bumper and shorter handle help minimize vibration and fatigue. The blade has a Teflon coating that can reduce friction, prevent corrosion and improve wear resistance. It is designed to be easily maintained.

Conclusion

Although hedges are usually made up of shrubs or trees, they can also be mixed with other plants to create an attractive screen. By combining different grasses and shrubs, you can create a truly unique and attractive hedge. Creating a living wall or screen using plants can help define borders and provide wildlife habitat. It’s also beneficial for the environment.