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Hedging Guides

Screen or Formal Hedge

The most popular formal urban hedge is beech, or hornbeam for wet areas. If you would like a hedge to act as a screen, consider the evergreen trees like Lawson Cypress or, Western Hemlock. For a slower growing hedge option which is easier to maintain, try yew for a large hedge or box for a small hedge. Plant 6 plants per metre for a double staggered row.

Rustic Hedge

The most popular rustic hedge is hawthorn. For rustic hedges, go for the relaxed look with plenty of texture. Rustic hedges can look really good when several trees are mixed together in one hedge, and this will also ensure different flowering times along the hedge. For an animal-proof hedge, keep much of the hedge made of hawthorn, blackthorn or a suitable berberis and perhaps put flowering apple or pear through the hedge for colour, or maybe add in some roses.

How Many Trees To Plant Per Metre

A rough guide to how many trees to plant for your hedge is 4 per metre for a single row or 6 per metre for a thick, double, staggared row. For many conifers, reduce this number to 2 per metre for a single row and 3 per metre for a double row. This can vary per species, so read my blog about hedge planting density for more information.

How To Prune My Hedge

Most hedges will do well if you prune back by 1/3 every spring until you are happy with the overall size of the hedge, but this can vary per species. Learn more from our blog entry on hedge pruning times.

Berberis darwinii

Berberis darwinii

Berberis darwinii is an easy-to-grow evergreen shrub or hedge. Darwinii is best known for its holly-like leaves and orange flowers, although it is less spikey than other berberis species which makes it a more pleasant character in the garden.

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Hornbeam

Carpinus betulus

Hornbeam is an excellent alternative to beech for a hedge - it is better in wet or shady sites and comes into leaf earlier. Hornbeam looks wonderful as an urban hedge and although it lacks the glossy look of the green beech, it adds texture with thick, soft ridges on the leaves.

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Lawson Cypress

Chamaecyparis lawsonianna

Chamaecyparis lawson is the most popular cypress as it is easy to grow as a thick, screen hedge or beatiful topiary tree. Fast growing and evergreen, lawson is our most popular choice as a screen or small windbreak. It is fairly water hungry, so avoid planting right next to your home and make sure you prune the hedge every year as you cannot prune into old growth.

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White Berried Dogwood

Cornus alba

Create a stunning winter garden with the brilliant yellow and red stems of the dogwood and white-berried dogwood.

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Hazel

Corylus avellana

The hazel tree is often chosen for urban gardens as it is small, colourful and resistant to air pollution. Hazel can take a good pruning so you can keep the hazel tree as small as you like and for the more crafty it can also provide a crop of walking sticks each year. And hazel nuts taste wonderful!

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Common Broom

Cytisus scoparius

Broom , like gorse, has bright yellow flowers and it's spikey branches provide an ideal habitat for native birds. However, it is less spiky than gorse as so better suited for gardens - especially ones with children running arounf in them! Broom grows quite well in most places, but is perfect for coastal areas and poor soil.

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Holly

Ilex aquifolium

Holly is a wonderful Christmas bush, but it also makes a fantastic hedge - protection and food for birds and yuletide decoration for you. Only the female trees produce the famous berries and it is impossible to know which are female until it matures, so planting a hedge ensures a mix of genders and lots of berries. Holly hedging is also much prizes for adding a lucious green colour throughout the winter, although most of it seems to be harvested for indoor decorations!

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Common Crab Apple

Malus sylvestris

Add a bit of the 'tree of love' into your hedge for some stunning blossom in the spring and native apples in the autumn. Crab apple will need some other species to provide a bit of structure and girth to the hedge, such as hawthorn or blackthorn, but dotting some crab apple in can add a whole different dimension to your hedge. You won't regret it!

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Cherry Laurel

Prunus laurocerasus

The perfect answer to having a hedge which is green during the winter, but without having to opt for a conifer. The long, silky green leaves retain their formal feel throughout the darker months, so you can keep your garden screened whilst the rest of your garden is looking bare. The Cherry Laurel announces spring with a profusion of white flowers, inviting all other trees back into life.

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Portugal Laurel

Prunus lusitanica

Portugal laurel makes a great hedge as it is glossy-green with flowers and berries. It is generally hardier than Cherry laurel.

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Blackthorn

Prunus spinosa

Blackthorn trees have historically been used as animal-proof hedging, but are more commonly known for producing bright blue sloe berries for use in gin and jam. They make a wonderful structure hedge, through which you can plant dogroses and wild fruit trees. Easy to establish and a traditional, thick hedge.

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Dog Rose

Rosa canina

The delicate pink flower of the native dog rose makes it perfect for that country cottage look. You will normally wnat to plan on 6 plants per metre for a double, staggared hedge, but adding as extra can really bring the hedge alive. Whilst most heding species flower in the spring, the dogrose flowers throughout the summer on last year's growth. Being native, the dogrose is hardy and will look perfect in most settings.

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Ramanus Rose

Rosa rugosa

Although not strictly native, the ramanus rose is better suited to hedging than the dog rose. The ramanus rose will wind its way throughout the hedge and produce pink flowers in the summer on this year's growth, meaning that you can prune the whole hedge together without fear of losing a year's flowering. After the bees have pollinated the delicate flowers, the rose grows hips, which hang bright red decorations. The birds adore this luscious, fat bounty, so you will have to collect them quickly if you want to make delicious rose syrup!

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Elder

Sambucus nigra

Steeped in ancient mythology, the elder tree makes a wonderful hedge, especially when combined with Dog roses. Masses of delicate white elder flowers in the spring make delicious white wine with the berries making an equally delicious red wine! it can be a fairly delicate hedge, so you might like to twin with hawthorn or balckthorn is more exposed areas for a bit of 'body' to your hedge.

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Western Hemlock

Tsuga heterophylla

One of the hardiest evergreen hedges, western hemlock is becoming increasingly popular. Native Americans even made bread from the bark!

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Gorse

Ulex europaeus

Gorse is a natural, country shrub with near year-round yellow colour ; as the old saying goes, when Gorse is not in bloom, kissing is out of fashion. The RSBP recommend it for native birds as it can provide essential protection from predators. Gorse has natural spikes to prevent animal damage, so choose broom if you would prefer something smoother. The interesting green stems and folliage can provide a nice contrast the the browns of other plants.

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Wayfaring Tree

Viburnum lantana

Viburnum lantana makes a wonderfully informal shrub with white flowers, berries that change from green to red to black and leaves which turn red in autumn. Although not the sturdiest of hedges, the wafaring tree more than makes up for this with colour and so is perfect for growing against a wall or in a spot with a bit of shelter.

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Hawthorn

Crataegus monogyna

The ultimate hedging plant and an essential choice for most deciduous hedges. Hawthorn is widely used as it is very dense, easy to grow and the thorns keep animals at bay. Most mixed, native hedges have at least 70% hawthorn to provide sturcture to other plants and our farms are surrounded by miles of glorious hawthorn hedgrows. Enjoy the wonderful blossom in the spring and red haw fruits in the autumn!

hawthorn tree

Field Maple

Acer campestre

Field Maple is perfect for gardens as it is a small tree and the leaves turn deep yellow in autumn - it is our only native maple and it under-rated as a hedge. Being shade tolerant, the maple thrives in areas in which other species may suffer and the lobed foliage makes the hedge almost come alive. If you plant a field maple hedge in a shady area, it will be a bright, light green in the summer and a glorious yellow in the autumn, with tinges of orange and gree, A fantastic hedge which will grow well in most situations.

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Cotoneaster lacteus

Cotoneaster lacteus

Cotoneaster lacteus has a glorious display of orange berries throughout the winter which tend to be left alone by birds.

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