Hedging for a Purpose

Creating barriers in the garden from planting forms a much softer feeling in the space, encourages wildlife, and can even help reduce surface water. Here are some great ways that hedging can be used in gardens to aid the design or help resolve problems.

Zoning the Garden

Dividing the garden into zones creates an interesting and practical design. Using low hedging to divide the garden creates partitioned zones without blocking the garden off from the rest of the space entirely encouraging you to journey around the space, focusing on distinct seating areas or entertaining spaces.

Hedging plants for zoning:

  • Portuguese laurel (Prunus lusitanica) – Glossy, dark-green leaves on striking maroon stems, perfect for formal hedging
  • Common box (Buxus sempervirens) – Small, densely packed, evergreen leaves, can be clipped neatly
  • Japanese spindle (Euonymus ‘Jean Hughes’) – Alternative to common box in problematic areas, can be clipped neatly

Noise Reduction

If you live near a busy road or school perhaps, a hedge can help reduce traffic noise. The leaves and stems themselves form a physical barrier. Evergreens are often the best choices as they have dense canopies, reducing noise by up to 8dB.

Clipping the hedges helps improve their vigour, encouraging new growth from side stems forming a denser surface over 5-15 years. It is important to note that hedging for noise reduction takes time to mature and reduce the noise as you expect (unless hedging in trough grown containers is used which is often more expensive as they form an instant hedge). Even tall hedging units will need time to thicken up from annual trimming.

Hedging plants for noise reduction:

  • Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) – Fast growing, evergreen conifer
  • Cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) –Large, glossy, lime green leaves, dense cover when regularly clipped
  • Yew (Taxus baccata) – Dark green, leathery, and narrow leaves with a pointed tip
  • Holly (Ilex aquifolium) – Glossy, wavy edges tipped with spines, red berries on female plants

Encouraging Wildlife

Most hedging provides shelter for birds and some hedging (mostly native species) provides berries for birds and pollen and nectar for bees and butterflies. Planting a mixed native hedge – often inexpensive to buy during bare root season from RSPB – extend flowering and fruiting times to encourage wildlife over a longer season, benefitting them and you. Supporting wildlife isn’t just about planting a hedge, so don’t forget to include other insect and bird-friendly plants in your garden.

Hedging plants to support wildlife:

  • Beech (Fagus sylvatica) – Pointed oval green leaves with a lightly toothed or wavy margin developing as the leaf matures
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyma) – Thorny, first to flower white blossom in the spring
  • Firethorn (Pyracantha) – Known as firethorn, due to its flame-coloured berries and prickly stems
  • Wild dog rose (Rosa canina) – Scrambling beauty with its pale pink flowers, and red hips in the autumn

Screening

Under the high hedge law in the UK (Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003: Part 8 in 2005) hedging on boundaries must be under 2m.  Instant hedging however can be a great way to distract attention from a view where height required to fully screening is more than 2m. If a neighboring drive or garage wall is bothering you, often a hedge up to 2m is enough to distract your eye so the object becomes less offensive.

Hedging plants for screening:

  • Cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) – Large, glossy, lime green leaves, dense cover when regularly clipped
  • Privet (Ligustrum) – Small oval leaves in a glossy green colour, dense in cover
  • Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) – Deeply veined leaves with serrated edges, more matt in texture than beech. Retains brown leaves
  • Yew (Taxus baccata) – Dark green, leathery, and narrow leaves with a pointed tip

Security

If you are wanting to create a boundary line to prevent people (or animals) from venturing into part of your garden, spiky or thorny hedges are the best deterrents. They can still look attractive and provide benefits for wildlife, but the prickly stems will prevent unwanted intruders.

Hedging plants for security:

  • Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyma) – Thorny, first to flower white blossom in the spring
  • Firethorn (Pyracantha) – Known as firethorn, due to its flame-coloured berries and prickly stems
  • Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) – Thorny shrub favoured for its sloe berries
  • Purple Berberis (Berberis x ottawensis) – Soft oval foliage that is a rich, dark purple, with thin small spikes

How to Plant Hedges

Evergreen and semi-evergreen hedges are best planted in late October and early November, and March when bare root season is available. Deciduous hedges can be planted from late October until March, as long as the ground is not waterlogged or frozen at the time of planting.

Want to get hedges that are fit for a Royal Estate? Ones that will envy everyone that sees them? We can help, give us a call at 0330 202 1955 today.

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