Planting hedges is a great way to provide privacy between your property, and to serve as a shelter from strong winds. A hedge may be desirable for various reasons. In some places a tall hedge serves as a windbreak for protection of house and garden. It may also serve the purpose of a screen or fence in your yard and garden, to give privacy and prevent intrusion. Very often it is used to define limited areas within the garden. A well-kept hedge, properly placed, can be a most attractive garden feature when made of an appropriate plant. It may be evergreen or deciduous (leaf-losing), dwarf or tall, kept formal by close shearing, or informal by close shearing, or informal by merely trimming straggly shoots.
Before selecting a suitable plant for a particular hedge, you should give consideration to local climatic conditions and to the nature of the soil. An evergreen hedge shrub is usually intended to stand in place for a long time. In order to give it a good start, thorough soil preparation should be made should be made. Good drainage is essential as most plants will not survive for very long if they are in standing water. Sometime it might be necessary to remove some of the soggy soil and replace it with cinders or some gravel. A strip of earth 2-3 feet in width and 2 feet deep should be enriched with leaf mold, peat moss, compost or other well decayed material and with bone meal in preparation for planting your hedge.
Planting and Care
In general it is advisable to set out plants of rather small size. Smaller plants are more easily established and less expensive to buy than larger ones. A single row hedge serves the purpose in most case. Space the plants 9” apart for the smaller hedge, and up to 2’ for larger deciduous and evergreen plants. Where a very dense hedge is desired, you should plant 2 rows 10 to 12” apart, with the plants set in a staggered fashion.
Deciduous plants should be cut back to 6” or so at planting time in order to promote dense growth at the base. For a solid effect a hedge should be built up gradually to the desired height. Evergreen plants do not require this cutting back at planting time, but a leveling off of the tops is advisable. Plants set for an informal hedge may be more widely spaced. Deciduous shrubs may be cut back one half or more to induce good bushy growth from the base.
Hardy shrubs suitable for hedges
This first group are generally hardy in the North; heights will be variable according to the location and conditions. You will note that I am given their botanical names so that you can be sure to get the correct variety. Check your tag on your plant when selecting your plants to make sure they are all the same variety.
Deciduous Varieties by Height
Deciduous: Up to 2 ft. Berberis Thunbergii erecta, and B. Thunbergii minor, chaenomeles japonica, Deutzia gracilis, Spirea Bumald, Anthony waterer, S. Japonica, Viburnum Opulus nanum.
Deciduous: Up to 5 ft. Acamtjp[amax Sieboldanua, Berberis mentorensis, B. Thunbergii, Chaenomeles lagenaria, Deuzia Lemoinei, Euonymus alatua compactus, ligustrum amurense, L. Obtusifolium Regelianum, L. Ovalifolium, Physocarpus monogynous, Rhamnus Frangula, Spirea Thunbergii, Stephanandra incisa.
Deciduous: 5’ and over. Caragana arborescens, Carpinus Betulus, Crataegus Crus-galli, Euonymous alatus, Fagus sylvatica, Hibiscus syriacus, Myrica pensylvanica, Quercus imbricaria, Sprirea Vanhouttei, Syringa Josikaea, Viburnum Lantana.
Evergreens by Height
Evergreen Hedges: Up to 2’. Buxus microphylla koreana, b. Sempervirens suffruitcosa, Euonymus Fortunei Carrierei, and Taxus cuspidata densa. (More Buxus information on landscaping).
Evergreen Hedges: Up to 5’. Berberis Julianae, Chamaecyparis obtusa compacta, C. Pisifera filifera, Ilex crenata microphylla, Juniperus virginiana Canaertii, Pinus Cembra, Taxus cuspidata, T. Cuspidata columnaris, T. Media varieties, thuja occidentalis robusta, and T. Occidentalis compacta.
Evergreen Hedges: 5’ and over. Chamaecyparis pisifera, Ilex crenata, I. Opaca, Juniperus scopulorum viridifolia, Picea Abies, P. Glauca, Pinus Strobus, Pseudotsuga taxifolia, thuja orientalis T. Occidentalis, Tsuga canadensis.
Tender Shrubs Suitable for Hedges
The following evergreens may be used for hedges in parts of the country where conditions are suitable and winters are not severe.
Dwarf to Medium Height: Abelia grandiflora, Buxus sempervirens, Carissa grandiflora, Euonumus Japonicus microphyllus, Ligurstrum japnicum rotundifolium, L. Lucidum, Lonicera nitida, Myrtus communis minima, Pittosporum Tobira, Raphiolepis indica.
Evergreen Hedges 5’ or more. Acacia longifolia, Camelia japonica, Camellia Sasanqua, Casuarina equisetifolia, Chamaecyparis Lawsoniana, Eugenia paniulata australis, Euonymous japonicus varieties, Ilex Aquifolium, I. Vomitoria, Murraea paniculat, Myrica cerifera, Prunus Laurocerasus, Severinia buxifolia, and Viburnum Tinus.