Tree hedges have existed in gardens for the past 2,000 years. Box hedges first appeared in the garden landscape of Roman villas while parterres were the trend during the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Dark Hedges near Ballymoney in Northern Ireland is one of the most mysteriously compelling of all aged hedges that it was even featured as a location for the HBO hit drama “Game of Thrones.”
The record for the most notorious hedge of all time belongs to the Great Hedge of India, also known as Indian Salt Hedge.
The East India Company planted it as part of the Inland Customs Line in the 1840s. Up to 14,000 men guarded this hedge which runs 2,500 miles from Punjab to the Bay of Bengal.
Different Types of Hedges
One of the most popular types of evergreen trees to use for hedges is the cypress tree. They are generally easily recognizable and most people have seen these green giants at one point or another.
It’s easy to choose cypress trees that will look great in your yard, as they come in a wide range of different colors that can vary from bright green to yellow-green, and some cypress trees even tend to be a little gray.
Probably the most popular type of Cyprus is the Leyland Cypress, which grows relatively quickly and can become massive in only a few years.
If you want a very large hedge to keep people out of your yard, then this type of cypress is a great choice as it can reach forty to sixty feet high and eight to twelve feet in width.
When planting a hedge, make sure that your trees are between five and six feet apart from each other so they have room to grow, while at the same time still connecting to form a solid hedge.
They do not require fertilization, and, once established, they do not need regular watering.
This vigorous plant is incredibly hearty and easily planted and maintained as a hedge. By considering your plantings zone, how tall you want the hedge to be, and whether or not you have a sunny or shady area, you can easily choose the right viburnum for your needs.
While many people want their hedge to be impenetrable, others prefer an airy look.
This plant can easily achieve either look depending on how you plant it. For a thicker hedge that is partially see-through, make sure to plant your viburnum closer together; half of the final width of the plant is advisable.
If you want an airier hedge, then planting them at 75% of the final width of the plant will increase the space between the plants just enough to allow more air and light to pass through your hedge.
To keep your new hedge looking its best, it does need to be trimmed regularly and pruned back so that the plant will fill out instead of becoming tall and lanky.
After the spring flowers have fallen, then it is a perfect time to severely cut back the hedge, if necessary, as it will have plenty of time over the rest of the spring and summer to grow.
Spruce trees are easily recognizable due to their pyramidal shape. Dwarf spruce trees are only five feet tall, while larger ones can easily reach sixty feet.
Smaller spruce trees are ideal for hedges, as they fill out quickly and will form a solid hedge with very little effort on the part of the homeowner. Moist soil is advisable to ensure that your spruce trees will last for a long period of time, but they do not need regular fertilization.
As a result, they are relatively easy to take care of.
However, because this is a tree with needles, any sort of spider mites on the tree, or other infections, can cause the tree to lose its needles and become thin, usually resulting in the homeowner having to rip the trees out and start fresh with making a new hedge.
Often called a tree, but technically a shrub, boxwood is one of the most popular and reliable plants to use when you want to create a hedge in your yard.
This plant is very versatile and easy to cut and trim into various shapes. With this plant, you will have complete control over the appearance of your hedge.
Even during the winter, the boxwood will retain its rich color and strong shape, so you never have to worry about your hedge browning and appearing less than attractive.
These plants can be used to define spaces in the garden or create a border around the entire property. While it’s easy to buy boxwoods in a variety of different shapes, to make sure that your hedge looks its best, you want to make sure that you buy are the ones that are best suited for hedging.
Unlike topiary boxwoods, these will fill in quickly and easily when grouped together, and they are easy to keep in a similar shape so that they do not grow too tall.
When planting a hedge it is advisable to plant your new boxwoods at half the recommended distance from each other as this will ensure that as they grow there is not unwanted space near to the ground underneath the hedge.
Another great choice if you want to add security to your home as well as privacy and defined areas of your yard, is a flowering quince.
It has incredibly sharp spines that will deter any unwanted visitors from passing or coming through your hedge. This plant can grow up to ten feet tall, but can easily be trimmed and trained to remain shorter.
During the spring your hedge will be filled with pink, white, or scarlet blooms that smell amazing and attract pollinators.
Unfortunately, the flowering quince is deciduous, but it does such a great job protecting the home and keeping out intruders that it is worth considering if you’re worried about security at your property.
or an attractive look at your home, the American Arborvitae is a great choice.
This tree is not only an evergreen, which means that you’ll never have to worry about the color appearance of your hedge throughout the year, but it also has an interesting shape that is wider at the bottom and tapers gently to the top.
Left to grow taller, this natural shape will add visual interest to your hedge, but this tree can easily be trimmed and maintained to a shorter height for a thicker and fuller looking hedge if that is the appearance that you desire.
Because these trees can grow to be five feet wide at the bottom, they can be planted farther apart for a visual break in your yard or closer together for a tighter and more secure hedge.
This is an evergreen that will look great all year long due to its bright and glossy leaves. Because this plant grows so quickly you will be able to plant your new hedge and enjoy privacy and security right away.
While it looks great planted by itself as a focal point in your yard, because it grows so quickly and thickly, the wax myrtle is ideal for forming a hedge.
It’s important to prune any limbs that have been damaged by snow or ice so that the hedge will not look deformed.
Growing between three and five feet a year, it’s easy to see why this is a favorite for forming a hedge quickly. Small green flowers appear in the spring while during the winter there are attractive berries.
This plant likes full or partial sun and prefers moist soil.
This is a very attractive hedge because the foliage will vary from dark green to lighter green. It is also easy to find euonymus that has white or yellow coloring on the same leaves with the green, which is very attractive.
Homeowners need to consider the color that you are interested in so you can find the euonymus that will best meet your needs and look attractive in your yard.
This forms a beautiful hedge, especially when it is blooming and has gorgeous berries. As long as you are willing to trim your euonymus on a regular basis, you won’t have to worry about whether or not your hedge will be full, as it will begin to automatically fill out as you trim it.
One problem with using this plant for a hedge is that it tends to be a little expensive to buy multiple plants, but homeowners who are willing to try to cultivate their own plants can easily start with root cuttings.
This evergreen is well-known due to the glossy foliage and red berries that ripen in the winter. One reason that it makes such a great hedge is that the leaves are saw-toothed which makes it very painful to try to push through or pass close by this tree.
While this is a much slower growing tree than other choices for hedges, it can still reach between 15 and 25 feet in height, which is high enough for most people who desire privacy and security in the backyard.
By planting these trees five feet apart, you provide plenty of room for them to grow together and form a complete hedge without crowding them.
While there are some common infections that can affect holly trees, pruning off infected branches usually makes it easy to save the rest of the tree.
If you are interested in additional privacy in your home, as well as increased security, then holly is a great choice because it is very painful to try to pass through the hedge made of these trees.
These lush evergreens can be planted two to three feet apart when forming a hedge, which makes it a great choice if you want to quickly have a new hedge grow in your backyard.
You won’t have to wait for a long period of time for it to grow. Because junipers can be placed so close to each other, your new hedge will fill out rather quickly and provide you with the border that you desire.
It is important to make sure that your junipers do not get too dry during the year. If they do, they can brown and lose their needle-like leaves, which is very unsightly.
While they can easily mature to between 15 and 20 feet tall, regular pruning will keep them significantly shorter so that your hedge will be easy to maintain.
One thing that is important to consider when using privet for your hedge is that there are some types that can be very invasive. Before planting a hedge made out of this plant, you want to double check what kind you are using to ensure that you are not going to be damaging the environment.
Additionally, if you plant your hedge too close to a property line or a fence, then you will likely have to spend a lot of time trimming and sculpting your plants so that they do not get out of control.
While privet is great because it is able to grow very quickly and also very tall, people who are unwilling to put the time and effort into controlling the way their hedge looks will likely be very frustrated because they will appear overgrown and shaggy.
Evergreen Hedge Types
Evergreen trees keep leaves on their twigs and branches all year long, which will ensure that your new hedge is green and looks healthy no matter what time of the year it is.
This happens because the tree is able to continue growing new leaves, even as old leaves fall off of the twigs and branches. These trees are incredibly hearty, and they are a great looking during both dry seasons and in cold weather, because they do not suffer from brown, dropped leaves.
They are ideal for hedges and windbreakers as they offer complete privacy for the entire year. The leaves keep the plants full and make it very difficult for people to see into your space, and it deters people and animals from passing through the hedge.
Choosing the right evergreen can be tricky as you want to make sure that you pick a good tree for your area.
You want it to have the best chance possible at remaining healthy and keeping its leaves.
Your growing zone will greatly determine what kind of evergreen tree you can plant in your yard as a hedge because heartier trees will be able to withstand weather extremes more easily than ones that are not hearty.
While you don’t need to spend a lot of time maintaining your evergreens, there are some that need to be fertilized on a yearly basis and pruned in order to keep their shape.
Take that into consideration when shopping for trees for your hedge.
Deciduous Hedge Types
Some people, when shopping for trees to install a new hedge in their yard, make the mistake of buying deciduous trees.
While these trees are gorgeous when they are full of foliage, they will lose all of their leaves during a part of the year. As a result, you will have to deal with a bare hedge.
Unlike evergreen trees where the foliage is shed a little bit at a time, deciduous trees will lose all of their foliage at once, making them a less than ideal choice for a hedge.
Small Hedge Types
Some homeowners want a very small hedge that simply delineates areas of their yard.
These people don’t necessarily want a hedge designed to help keep people out of the property or to form a physical barrier which prevents people from seeing into your backyard. If you are interested in a hedge that meets these purposes, then consider growing one that is under five feet.
This will allow you to easily see over your hedge, if necessary, which is imperative for keeping an eye on children or pets in the area. It will still serve as a physical barrier to help block out an area of your property.
While you can trim most any tree or bush to a small size, selecting one that naturally grows smaller will ensure not only that it is full and healthy, but that it does not have any problems requiring constant care.
When you opt for a larger tree and simply continue to trim it down to size, you will quickly find that it takes a lot of effort to keep your hedge looking clean and neat.
Medium Hedge Types
A happy medium for many people is a hedge that is between five and twenty feet tall. These hedges form a physical barrier, improve privacy, and can make it difficult for people to see on your property.
As long as you have a ladder that is tall enough to reach the top of your hedge, you should not struggle with keeping your hedge looking its best.
It is very important to maintain your landscaping and the aesthetic appeal of your home. Make sure that when you choose trees that will stay between five and twenty feet tall, you plant them close enough together to form a thick hedge.
Otherwise, you will struggle with having a lot of their space near to the ground, and this can be very unattractive and defeat the purpose of planting a hedge in the first place.
Large Hedge Types
If you want to be able to completely block the view that other people have of your yard and home, then you will want to choose trees or shrubs that can grow incredibly high.
It is not uncommon for some plants to reach up to 60 feet tall, which is sure to provide you with all of the privacy that you want your home. One difficulty to consider in growing a hedge that is above 20 feet tall is how you are going to trim it and ensure that it looks its best.
Without constant care, it is very likely that your new hedge will look unruly and untamed, and this can detract from the beauty of your hedge and of your yard.
Full Sun Hedge Types
Depending on how much sun you get in your yard, you will have to choose different plants for your hedge.
While some plants do very well in full sun, others can quickly become burned and damaged. When this happens you are likely to deal with having to replace your plants as they will not look as healthy or be as full.
Even if you have a tree or a shrub that you would prefer to use for your hedge, when you do not have the correct light requirements in your yard, you will find that it is very difficult to grow your new hedge without your plants dying and needing to be replaced.
Trees and shrubs that require full sun may be able to grow in partial shade, but they will take a lot longer to grow.
Partial Sun Hedge Types
Some plants need a mix of sun and shade so that they can grow as well as possible. When you look for trees or shrubs that need only partial shade then you will really need to consider where you in your yard you are going to plant your new hedge.
It’s advisable to wait a week or two while you decide where your hedge is going to be planted, as well as how much sun various locations in your yard receive.
Knowing how much sun your yard gets will ensure that you do not make a costly mistake by buying trees or shrubs that won’t be able to survive.
Shade Hedge Types
There is a major problem that you will have to contend with when planting a hedge in the shade; when plants do not get enough sun, they will become leggy and won’t fill out enough to form a solid hedge that offers protection and privacy.
For this reason, it is imperative to consider what trees you want to use so that you can ensure that you will have a thick hedge all year long.
When you make a mistake by buying plants that are better suited for full sun and then place them in the shade, then they will struggle to fill out as they grow and will usually be very tall and skinny.
While you can combat this by planting trees closer together to form your hedge, this can get quite expensive and will result in a hedge that is not healthy.