Shrubs used for hedges

Types of hedge plants and their qualities

Hedge plants make perfectly green fences that give you lots of privacy in a very natural way. On this page you can find useful information on the most important types of hedge plants used for green garden fencing.

Go to: choosing a hedge plant – professional advice – request quotes

Types of hedges

There are lots of different kinds of hedge plants, but not all hedges are equally suitable to use as a fence. In the survey below, you can find a few of the most sold hedge plants and their advantages.

Types of hedge plants
Average price
Beech hedge
£30 – £65 (10 items)
Hornbeam hedge
£35 (10 items)
Yew hedge
£255 – £320 (10 items)
Privet hedge
£21 (per item)
Laurel hedge
£14.5 (per item)
Installation costs: ± £26 à £43 per hour
Leaving the planting of your hedge to a professional garden contractor, and wondering about the costs? Request your noncommittal quotes on our quotation page

Beech hedge (Fagus Sylvatica)

The beech hedge is without a doubt one of the most popular types of hedges. They grow relatively fast, don’t require much maintenance, and are evergreen so to guarantee your privacy even then. There are green and red beech hedges and both require the same amount of maintenance. The red beech hedge has a slightly more luxurious look so they cost quite a bit more.

Read more about beech hedges.

Price: Green beech hedge: from £30 / Red beech hedge: from £65
Pros: cheap, evergreen, easy maintenance, fast grower.

Hornbeam hedge (Carpinus Betulus)

The hornbeam hedge, unlike the beech hedge, is not an evergreen, but makes up for it by needing less maintenance to the soil. Even a long-lasting wet soil (clay / loam) forms no problem at all for the hornbeam. A hornbeam hedge is a a bit more thickly grown than a beech hedge and has a different type of leave. If privacy is not really an issue, then these hornbeam hedges are the way to go.

Read more about hornbeam hedges

Price: per 10 (49-59 in): from £35
Pros: Cheap, can withstand different kinds of soil, strong, thickly grown

Yew hedge (Taxus Baccatta)

Yew is a hardy annual, conifer plant that is very popular amongst the garden fences, because of its decorative outlook. It can grow very tall, is not too difficult to maintain and can be planted in the sun as well as in the shade. Be careful, however, as yew is a poisonous plant. Take this into account if you have children, pets or farm animals. This type of hedge plant provides lots of privacy, throughout the year.

Read more about yew hedges.

Price per 10 (49-59 in): Taxus baccatta £255 / Taxus media Hicksii £320
Pros: evergreen, easy maintenance, thickly grown

Privet hedge (Ligustrum Ovalifolium)

There are e few kinds of privet available. The Ligustrum Ovalifolium is by far the most popular because it’s an evergreen hedge plant. The privet is a fast grower, so it needs regular trimming. Only then will it stay nice and dense. In summer (between July and August) you can see small white flowers in the hedge, and in September you get little black berries in the thick foliage.

Read more about privet hedges.

Price per item (49-59 in): £21
Pros: Evergreen, easy maintenance, fast grower, relatively cheap

Laurel hedge (Prunus)

The laurel hedge is a popular hedge plant because it’s evergreen and grows quickly (16-20 in per year). It quickly forms a dense hedge and grows considerably in width as well. There are a few different types of laurel. Amongst the hedge plants, you’ll find that the Prunus Rotundifolia is a very popular choice. This type can grow up to almost 20 ft. The white flowers that grow in spring make this hedge particularly decorative.

Read more about laurel hedges.

Price per item (49-59 in): £14.5
Pros: Relatively cheap, evergreen, fast grower, decorative

Which hedge plant do I choose?

Are you struggling with choosing the perfect hedge from this large supply of hedge plants? Ask yourself the following questions:

Which type of soil are you dealing with?

Is it a long-lasting wet soil, more clay-like or is the ground rich in humus and more acidic? It’s important to know this stuff, as some types of hedges require more care when it comes to the soil they grow in. It’s always possible to add a soil improver, but a wet clayey soil, is always going to stay wet.

Does your hedge need to be evergreen?

Privacy is always an important factor when choosing a hedge plant. This doesn’t really matter, of course, if you’re planning on installing closed garden fence panels or when privacy is not an issue.

Don’t mind trimming? Or would you rather limit the maintenance to a minimum?

Every garden needs some work. But if you want to limit the amount of maintenance, you’d do well to buy hedges that only need trimming once or twice a year. In that case, hornbeam or yew are the way to go.

Is your hedge planted right out in the sun, or in (semi-)shade?

The amount of sun plays a big role as well when choosing the right hedge. Some plants thrive better in the shade, while others prefer sunshine throughout the day.

What is your budget?

The cost of hedge plants that grow slowly is generally higher, because growers need to keep them for a longer time before they reach the right height. A good example of a slow-growing hedge plant is Yew.

Choosing the perfect hedge is in part a highly personal matter. Some prefer beech because they like the shape of its leaves, others choose a conifer like yew because it speaks more to them.

Professional gardening advice

No green thumb but still dreaming of a nice, green fence? Ask for professional gardening advice. This is entirely noncommittal and you’re provided with some great advice! Every garden is unique and there are so many possibilities in the way of garden design. An expert can list your wishes and specifically explain which hedge is the best choice for you and why. Request noncommittal prices and quotes? Please use our online quotation service.

Planting a hedge is one of the friendliest ways to put a border around a property.

Unlike fences, shrubs take time to grow, allowing you to ease into defining your space.

In addition to creating privacy, hedging is a great way to divide gardens, line the borders of a driveway, and adorn your home’s foundation.

The culture of planting trees and shrubs in dense, interwoven lines dates back thousands of years to the fields of farmers who needed to pen livestock and shield tender crops from seaborne winds. In medieval days, dense thickets of thorny hawthorn kept enemies at bay.

In England and Ireland, the ancient tradition of “hedge laying” is still practiced in the countryside today, in which shrub branches are cut, bent, and intermingled to create dense barriers.

More recently, formal gardens in Europe have been framed by natural borders of artistically pruned bushes that create regal, manicured landscapes.

What is a Hedge?

Today’s hedges are living walls that create privacy and adorn garden spaces, forming natural borders that are functional and beautiful.

In the broadest sense, any woody plants spaced close together to form a barrier constitute a hedge, from a towering cypress windscreen to a knee-high border of lavender.

The definition is then fine-tuned as follows:

  • Formal or Informal
  • Deciduous or Evergreen

When a row of intertwined shrubs is pruned, we call this a formal style. When it is left loose, like the hedgerows that divide farmers’ fields, we call it informal.

As you may remember from science class, a deciduous plant is one that drops its leaves, and an evergreen stays green year-round.

Some shrubs are evergreen in one climate and deciduous in another – something to keep in mind when plant shopping.

Creating a Boundary

What are you looking for in a hedge?

Do you want shrubbery that’s fast growing, evergreen, and tall, to block your view of the gas station on the corner? Did you know that in addition to creating an attractive sight line, plants absorb pollutants and noise?

Or, are you establishing a driveway border of shrubs to invigorate your curb appeal and keep guests from leaving tire tracks on your lawn?
Knowing your needs will help you select the right varieties for your property.

Be aware that while formal varieties require pruning on a regular basis, even informal types may benefit from occasional clipping.

The 5 Best Hedges

The following shrubs have stood the test of time and merit recognition as 5 of the best for hedging.

Prune them for a formal display, or leave them to their own devices for an unassuming hedgerow. You’re sure to find the perfect varieties for your outdoor space among these winners!

1. Emerald Green Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’)

For a fast-growing, column-shaped shrub that creates privacy and blocks wind, consider the emerald green arborvitae.

Suitable for zones 4 to 9, this soft, scented evergreen thrives in full sun in a variety of soils.

Once established, it requires no watering, and is cold and heat tolerant.

This arborvitae is great for narrow spaces, as its maximum girth is only about four feet, with a height reaching to 15.

Plant closely to create a living wall of green.

Emerald green arborvitae shrubs are available from Nature Hills Nursery.

2. Dwarf English Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’)

This formal garden icon lined the front walk of my childhood home. I didn’t know then what a treasure it is!

Dwarf English boxwood, or box, is a pungent scented evergreen with soft, glossy little leaves that grow in round bushes.

Box is a slow grower, but a great investment, as it may live over 100 years!

A key benefit to this type of boxwood is that it is the least resistant to a destructive insect pest, the boxwood leaf miner.

This shrub is drought resistant and thrives in average soil. Full sun is best, but box will tolerate some shade.

It tops out at about three feet, with a girth of up to four feet around.

Plant closely and clip for a manicured hedge.

Dwarf English Boxwood is available from Nature Hills Nursery.

3. Red-Tipped Photinia (Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’)

Red tipped photinia is a fast-growing evergreen that is a hybrid of Photinia glabra and P. serrulata. It’s named for the bold red new growth it puts on in spring.

A year-round beauty, photinia has fragrant white blossoms that are followed by the appearance of red berry-like fruits called pomes. Mature leaves darken to a rich green.

This broadleaf shrub is hardy in zones 7 to 9, where it thrives best in well-drained soil, in full sun. It can tolerate some shade, but the risk of disease is lowest in full sun.

You may try it in zone 6, but plant it in a sheltered area, or provide winter protection.

Unpruned, this photinia may reach both a height and girth of 15 feet. Plants grown in the north are less prone to a disease called leaf spot than those grown in the south.

2 Potted Red Tip Photinia, 8-10 Inches Tall

There is a row of this stunning shrub in my neighborhood. It forms a barrier between a residential property and a street, absorbing pollutants and sound from passing vehicles.

If you decide to allow your photinia to grow to maximum proportions, you should still thin centers occasionally to improve air circulation.

Red-Tipped Photinia is available from Amazon.

4. Forsythia (Forsythia ‘Sunrise’)

One of my all-time favorites, forsythia is one of the earliest spring bloomers, its bright yellow flowers signaling winter’s end.

It’s deciduous, with leaves that drop in autumn.

The “Sunrise” variety is a fast-grower suitable for zones 4 to 8 that prefers full sun and tolerates any type of soil. Once established, it’s able to withstand a moderate degree of dry, hot weather.

Expect unpruned shrubs to a reach a height and girth of approximately 5 feet.

This variety has the sweeping branches typical of forsythia, but a more compact shape than other cultivars. Left alone, it makes a dense natural hedgerow.

I love forsythia; every time I prune a branch, I root it in a glass of water and plant it in the yard. And, it’s great for cutting and forcing branches in the spring.

Forsythia ‘Sunrise’ is available from Nature Hills Nursery.

5. Weigela (Weigela florida ‘Minuet’)

This deciduous dwarf shrub has dark purple-green leaves, pink trumpet-shaped flowers, and an overall round shape. It does best in zones 4 to 8.

I’ve been cultivating one for about five years, and it has proven to be outstanding. As promised by growers, it does in fact bloom several times during the growing season.

Full sun is ideal for this shrub, although it tolerates partial shade. It tops out at about 3 feet, with a width of about 5.

Whether you prune or let nature take its course, this weigela is great for smaller yards.

I’ve let mine grow and then pruned it drastically. It has survived dry spells and severe cold, and each spring it has returned in all its glory.

Weigela florida ‘Minuet’ is available from Nature Hills Nursery.

Tips for Success

I have three quick tips for you as you begin to think about the hedge that’s right for your garden:

1. Check for Invasives

If a shrub says it’s fast growing, make sure that’s not because it’s an invasive species.

Privet (Ligustrum), burning bush (Euonymus alata), Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii), rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), and mock orange (Murraya paniculate) are commonly cultivated, but may overtake a garden and pose a threat to native species.

If these shrubs appeal to you, look for “sterile” varieties that do not self-sow.

2. Don’t Block the View

Do not obscure your house completely with shrubbery.

In addition to purchasing with caution, when planting tall rows of shrubbery, do not to completely block the view of your doors and windows from passersby.

Doing so may enable potential burglars, and others, to approach your home unseen.

3. Prune Carefully

To prune shrubs properly, don’t just lop off the top and sides with your power trimmer and call it a day.

Take the time to make the top a little narrower in diameter than the sides and bottom, so sunlight reaches the lower branches. Then use hand pruners to make a few cuts deep inside to promote air circulation and increase light penetration.

For details, see our article on pruning shrubs.

Functional and Stylish

Gradually, shrubs planted close together will interweave to form a dense barrier, helping to promote soil conservation, inhibit flooding, reduce snow drifting, and sustain wildlife.

And, whether it’s 20 feet high or a mere 10 inches, your new hedge will add function and visual appeal to your outdoor living space.

Some gardeners find peace and relaxation while pruning, and others prefer to let nature dictate her own design. Whatever your pleasure, hedging is another option in your horticultural toolbox that you may use to enhance your surroundings.

Let us know in the comments below how hedges feature in your outdoor décor.

And if you enjoyed this guide, you’ll find these worth reading:

  • Why Autumn is the Best Time for Planting Shrubs
  • The Best 15 Woody Shrubs for Fall Color
  • Create a Sustainable Landscape with Essential Native Trees and Shrubs for the Eastern US

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About Nan Schiller

Nan Schiller is a writer with deep roots in the soil of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her background includes landscape and floral design, a BS in business from Villanova University, and a Certificate of Merit in floral design from Longwood Gardens. An advocate of organic gardening with native plants, she’s always got dirt under her nails and freckles on her nose. With wit and hopefully some wisdom, she shares what she’s learned and is always ready to dig into a new project!

A. Lots of options are available to meet your criteria. While you didn’t specify you were replacing a hedge, that’s how arborvitae are often used. In addition to dwarf arborvitae, several evergreen plant choices include yew, boxwood, small-leaf rhododendrons, chamaecyparis , and holly. Some deciduous possibilities are dwarf lilac, winterberry, blueberry bushes, and even ornamental grasses.

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All of these are suitable for lining up as a low hedge marking the edge of your yard. They also can be used in groups or as individuals. Your local garden center can show you examples of the slower-growing cultivars.

Maturing at a smaller size, dwarf-type plants like these are great for guiding traffic and defining sections of your yard without blocking the view of adjacent areas. Slower-growing and dwarf plants take longer to reach saleable sizes, so they tend to be more costly. Your budget will help guide your choices.

But often when we discuss hedging, homeowners want plants that grow taller to improve privacy, screen out less desirable views, create a background for other plantings, and act as an economical (and ecologically appropriate) barrier to help muffle noise, capture dust, and reduce wind.

Many homeowners believe only evergreens can create the effect they desire, but deciduous plants that drop their foliage during winter can be just as successful for a lot of situations. Most of us spend less time outdoors during the winter months, so having a fully hidden screened-off area may not be such a high offseason priority. And the leafless stems of most sheared hedge-type plantings can develop sufficient density to stop the eye and effectively define an area as separate.

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Deciduous plants offer a wider range of leaf texture and significant year-round design advantages. For example, plants like forsythia , rose of Sharon , and lilac are appealing in bloom; the long-lasting autumn foliage of aronia and enkianthus is superb; winterberry offers a fabulous fall display of colorful fruit; and the stems of many shrub dogwoods are attractive all winter. Most any type of plant can be used for hedging. Hedges need not be always narrow, planted in a formal straight line, or grown with those typical, evenly trimmed tops; using a naturalistic or more whimsical design — perhaps serpentine, staggered, or with varying heights or widths — can create a lot of interest while still performing the desired functions. Higher light intensity enhances growth density, so hedges in shady areas tend to be more see-through.

Here’s an important maintenance tip: Always shear your hedge to be wider at the bottom than top (forming more of an “A” than an “I” shape). This enables more light to reach lower parts of the hedge, reducing thin-out caused by lower light levels. It also helps develop sturdier branching that more readily sheds snow and ice to resist breakage.

R. Wayne Mezitt, a third-generation nurseryman and a Massachusetts certified horticulturist, is chairman of Weston Nurseries of Hopkinton and Chelmsford and founder of the advisory firm Hort-Sense. Send questions to [email protected]

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The Best Plants To Use For Hedging

Hedges are great to plant to enjoy attractive outdoor spaces, create privacy, and buffer noise in the neighborhood. With a lot of species to choose from, it can be difficult to select the best plant for hedging.

Besides Lilly Pillies, here are some other plants that can be used to create appealing hedges;

Buxus, also known as Boxwood, is an evergreen shrub that is considered ideal for sculpting. They can be shaped into perfect geometric shapes, making them ideal as border plants. They thrive in well-drained soil under partial to full sunlight. They are fragrant, low maintenance, and deer resistant.

Azaleas are considered tough, beautifully blooming shrubs. They are ideal to use as borders and as plants in landscapes. Like the Boxwood, they also thrive in well-drained soil under partial to full sunlight. They are heat- and cold-tolerant and lace bug-resistant.

Indian Hawthorn, also known as Rhaphiolepis Indica, are super tough shrubs that grow white and pink flowers that are very decorative. They are great for home and commercial landscapes and gardens. They thrive in sandy to well-drained clay types of soil under moderate shade to full sunlight. They are attractive and tolerant of extreme weather.

The Coastal Westringia, also known as Westringia, are a type of shrubs that are great for hedging. They are considered medium to tall hedging plants that have tidy form and mauve-coloured flowers. They thrive in sandy to well-drained types of soil under partial shade to full sunlight. They are fast-establishing hedges that require less pruning.

The Iresine herbstii, also known as Herbst’s bloodleaf, belongs to a species of flowering plants that can add a contrast in colour to any garden. They are commonly used as foliage in gardens and as small borders and hedges. They grow in moist, loamy, top-heavy soil types under partial shade to full sunlight. In places where frost is expected, they are best kept in sheltered areas. They are compact and tidy plants that require less pruning.

Callistemon Viminalis, also known as Weeping Bottlebrush, is commonly used as hedges. This plant grows in most types of soil under partial shade to full sunlight. They are drought- and frost-tolerant and require less pruning. They also thrive well in windy areas.

Buxus

Azaleas

Indian Hawthorn

Wistringia

Iresine Herbstii

Callistemon Viminalis

These are just some of the most popular plants for hedging in Australia. You may choose to have different species planted in your property. The most important things to consider before choosing are the place you live in, the type of soil in your area, and how much time you can devote to maintenance work.

Common Types Of Plants Used As Hedges

Whether you have a small or large yard, when designed and planted properly, hedges can give your outdoor space an additional charming quality. They can be functional garden features as well since they divide rooms or areas in your lawn and tall hedges can minimise outside noise and even block strong winds.

In Australia, there are four popular types of plants used to grow as hedges. These are:

Buxus

Buxus, also known as boxwood, is perhaps the most well-known and popular choice for hedge plants. It is distinguished by its small leaves which gives it its primary advantage over other plant species. This is because the size of leaves can create a formal, tight hedge. It is a slow-growing plant and therefore easy to shape into a formal hedging style. It works best as a driveway or garden bed boundary.

For subtropical areas such as Southeast QLD and Northern NSW and temperate areas including Sydney, Victoria, and NSW’s coastal area, the English Box is the best species to grow as hedges.

Murraya

If you want a taller hedge that has the look of boxwoods, you can go for murrayas. Their creamy white flowers have a sweet orange scent when they bloom. They are easy to care for and are disease-free. This plant has a dense, twiggy habit and foliage that is glossy green in colour. Since they can grow really tall, they are great as a privacy screen or hedge.

Murrayas grow best in areas with a warm climate including Sydney and Perth and other northern areas.

Lilly Pilly

Lilly pillies are native Australian plants. They are evergreen rainforest plants with glossy green leaves. They come in different varieties that can have flushes of colourful new growth, from bright pink to red-brown. Most lilly pillies have fluffy white or greenish flowers followed by long-lasting red, purple or whitish berries from spring to early summer.

Lilly pillies grow well and are quite popular in NSW, QLD, VIC, SA, and WA.

Viburnums

Most viburnums are very hardy and can easily grow in sunny or partly shaded areas as long as there is moist and well-drained soil. Some species are drought-tolerant; however, they will require additional water during the hotter seasons.

Viburnum odoratissimum and tinus are the two most common hedging varieties of viburnum. Odoratissimum is popular and grows well in QLD, NSW, VIC, TAS, SA, and WA. Tinus, on the other hand, thrives well in temperate areas including Sydney.

To choose the best plant species to grow as a hedge, make sure you consider various key factors such as the type of soil you have, the local weather condition, and the plant’s typical water amount requirement.

1 Acmena

The genus Acmena is one of several that is commonly referred to as lilly pillies, a group of plants that has become very widely used for hedging, both in Australia and overseas. Various botanic names have been used for the different lilly pillies, namely Eugenia, Acmena and Syzygium and unfortunately the professional botanists who name these plants are currently unable to agree on what the correct name should be. For instance, my favourite hedging plant Acmena smithii has been renamed Syzygium smithii by some botanical authorities while those at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney are sticking with the name Acmena smithii. I am sticking with Acmena smithii because most nurseries still sell the plant as that and also you can easily distinguish it by the fact that the fruits have a cup shaped indentation on the side opposite the stalk, and the flowers are relatively inconspicuous compared to the long ‘fluffy’ stamens of the lilly pillies known as Syzygium (examples below).

Here are some of my favourite Acmenas for hedging:

Acmena smithii ‘Allyn Magic’€™

Acmena smithii ‘Allyn Magic’Acmena smithii ‘Allyn Magic’Acmena smithii ‘Allyn Magic’

Because of its naturally compact habit and all-round adaptability.

Acmena smithii ‘Cherry Surprise’

Acmena smithii ‘Cherry Surprise’ Acmena smithii ‘Cherry Surprise’ Acmena smithii ‘Cherry Surprise’

The beautiful burgundy new growth of this outstanding cultivar of Acmena smithii is its outstanding feature. It also has a nice compact growth habit as well which makes it ideal for slightly taller hedges than ‘Allyn Magic’.

Westringia fruticosa ‘Smokie’

Westringia fruticosa ‘Smokey’Westringia fruticosa ‘Smokey’Westringia fruticosa ‘Smokey’

Because of its tough nature and subtle variegated foliage.

3 Syzygium australe (Scrub Cherry)

Syzygium australe ‘Garden Lights’Syzygium australe ‘Tiny Trev’ Syzygium australe ‘Big Red’

Because of its colourful new foliage and attractive flowers and fruits.

4 Syzygium paniculatum (Magenta Cherry)

Syzygium paniculatum ‘Lilyput’ Syzygium paniculatum – lilly pilly Syzygium paniculatum – lilly pilly

Because of its colourful new foliage and bird-attracting edible fruits.

5 Leptospermum ‘€˜Little Lemon Scents’

Leptospermum petersonii ‘Little Lemon Scents’ Leptospermum petersonii ‘Little Lemon Scents’

Because of its wonderful lemon-scented fine foliage and compact growth habit.

6 Leionema ‘Green Screen’

Leionema ‘Green Screen’ Leionema ‘Green Screen’

Because of its compact habit, masses of white flowers and ability to look fantastic and flower in sun or shade

7 Westringia fruticosa ‘Seafoam Swell’

Westringia fruticosa ‘Seafoam Swell’ Westringia fruticosa ‘Seafoam Swell’ Westringia fruticosa ‘Seafoam Swell’

Because of its profuse flowering, silvery grey foliage and compact habit.

8 Callistemon ‘€˜All Aglow’€™

Callistemon ‘All Aglow’ Callistemon ‘All Aglow’ Callistemon ‘All Aglow’

Because of its bright new growth, purple-pink flowers and adaptability to heavy clay soils.

9 Callistemon ‘Great Balls of Fire’€™

Callistemon citrinus ‘Great Balls of Fire’ Callistemon citrinus ‘Great Balls of Fire’ Callistemon citrinus ‘Great Balls of Fire’

Because of its bright reddish-pink new growth and very compact habit.

10 Melaleuca linariifolia ‘€˜Claret Tops’€™

Melaleuca ‘Claret Tops’ Melaleuca ‘Claret Tops’ Melaleuca ‘Claret Tops’

Because of its fine grey foliage with bright new growth and very compact habit.

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