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  3. The Complete Guide to Garden Hedging Plants

The Complete Guide to Garden Hedging Plants

Hedging plants are possibly the most practical, environmentally friendly way to bring privacy and security to your garden and home. With numerous varieties of hedging, there is almost no limit to your use of hedges. With evergreen, deciduous, flowering, and formal hedges, there is likely a perfect hedge for you, but where do you start when buying a hedge? Below we have created a step-by-step guide to choosing the best hedge for you. 

Five Steps to Choosing the Correct Hedging Plant

1. Understand the different hedge types

Hedges come in multiple different varieties. There are evergreen hedges, perfect for year-round coverage, requiring little more than the occasional prune once they are established. Then you have the deciduous hedges, often flowering in the spring and summer but losing their foliage in autumn and winter. Deciduous hedges provide more seasonality as they tend to lose their foliage in winter.

Then there are the hedges perfect for formal gardens; with maintenance, these hedges form a well-structured methodical design with a sharp design. But if a tightly clipped hedge is not for you, there are informal hedges with a soft appearance and better suited to wildlife habitats. You can let these hedges grow naturally to form and design they like; these informal hedges are perfect for cottage gardens.

2. What do you require from the hedge?

Do you need the hedge to grow tall to create a better privacy cover? Or to sit on either side of a pathway? Hedges have many different growth heights. For taller formal hedging, there is the Thuja Occidentalis Brabant – 80-100cm Hedging Conifer, but for a hedge that sits closer to the ground, there is the Buxus Sempervirens – Hardy Box for Hedging – 10cm-15cm tall. Each hedge has different spacing requirements, so you must research that specific hedge to learn how far apart each hedge should be planted.

3. What environment have you got?

Every type of hedge has different environmental requirements for them to grow to the best of its ability. The type of environment you have can significantly impact which hedging plant you choose, so it is best to check the soil, light and shade conditions meet the plant’s requirements before purchasing. 

4. Hedging Maintenance

Time to think realistically, how much time, patience and money are you genuinely willing to put into caring for your hedges? Many hedges require almost no care, like the Cotoneaster Dammerii, which appreciates the occasional pruning in the spring but can go a year or two without it having an effect. Whereas, some hedges require frequent pruning, liquid feeds, and maintenance to look good. 

5. Environmental impact 

Have you considered choosing a hedge that provides food and shelter for wildlife? There are hedges like Pyracantha Orange Glow – Firethorn that positively impact wildlife in your area.

Types of hedging plants:


Many conifers are evergreen and add valuable structure and colour to the garden. With such a wide range of conifers, it is almost guaranteed there is a conifer for all soil and environmental elements. Here are a few different types of conifers:


Laurels are quick-growing, evergreen hedges that have a massive effect on a garden. Perfect for giving privacy, some Laurels can also provide interest with flowers and berries. 


Not only are these wildlife-friendly Pyracantha hedges evergreen, but they provide masses of colourful berries. They are also hardy and deliver a great barrier to prevent intruders.


Although the Photinia hedges aren’t very dense, they provide year-round foliage. With many having a red-tinged leaf, these hedges are perfect for adding colour to your borders.

Taxus Baccata – Yew hedging

A great addition to a formal garden, these evergreen Taxus hedges are known for being long-lived and dense. Taxus hedges are often found in older properties that have been using hedges as privacy for hundreds of years. It is hard to beat Yew for hedging; it is a classic option, tough as old boots and yet timeless.


Thuja hedges are an attractive evergreen conifer with a compact and dense growth habit, making it ideal for hedging and noise reduction. This is a fast-growing (average 60cm new growth each year) hedge with green foliage in spring and summer, turning a slight bronze in autumn and consistent colour stability during winter. 

Lonicera Maigrun 

This is a lovely cultivar with fresh green foliage and small, densely packed leaves carried on slender stems that respond well to regular pruning. With white flowers blooming in spring, followed by purple-black berries. This shrub is perfect for making a low hedge due to its compact nature if pruned regularly. This is perfect for a formal or informal hedge.


These are perfect if you wish to create a well-established, formal box hedge. They are often supplied in packs at around 10-15 cm tall, and if planted with 10cm between each, they adapt quickly to form a dense, dark green hedge. These are ideal for lining a path edge or creating a knot garden.


These are the next best things if you want something that looks like a Buxus. This trouble-free evergreen box-leaved Japanese Holly creates an attractive green hedge. The Ilex is a hardy, low-maintenance plant that is becoming more popular due to its ability to grow in a multitude of growing conditions. The Ilex also has strong disease resistance and can be pruned to form a topiary if wanted.


The Leylandii is the fastest-growing hedging conifer in the UK which can tolerate a wide range of soils. With its rich green colour, this conifer can grow up to 3ft every year but can be maintained as a dense hedge if given an annual trim. Leylandii hedges have many benefits, including providing privacy, improving security, filtering noise and pollution, sheltering wildlife and decreasing the effects of strong winds.

Fagus Sylvatica 

Fagus sylvatica makes for a great hedging plant native to the UK. Providing bright foliage during spring before the colours of autumn emerge as orange and brown tones. Fagus can be semi-evergreen hedge plants as, when lightly pruned in August, the leaves may well hold on to the branches for the majority of the winter.


This small, spreading evergreen shrub is tolerant of a wide range of conditions, and its self-rooting tips spread to form a low blanket of weed-suppressing dark green foliage. Cotoneaster shrubs can be studded with small white flowers in spring, followed by bright red autumn berries, with the leaves often turning orange/red as temperatures cool in autumn and winter.

Hedging FAQ’s

What is the fastest-growing plant for a hedge?

The Thuja and the Leylandii are both known for being fast-growing hedges

What is the best low-maintenance hedge?

For a low-maintenance hedge, you should consider the Ilex hedge.

When should you plant hedges?

We recommend planting in early autumn for evergreen and semi-evergreen hedges, but they can be planted from late autumn to early winter if the soil is not too waterlogged or frozen. Deciduous hedges can be planted mid-autumn to late winter.

How many plants do I need for a hedge?

This changes based on the variety of hedges you buy. But as a rule of thumb, a small hedge should be at least 10cm between each.

How far from a fence should you plant a hedge?

For traditional hedging, we suggest planting your hedge around 60cm away from any wall or fence; but the taller you wish to grow your hedge, the further away you need to plant them.

How do you prepare the ground for a hedge?

To prepare your garden for a hedge, you must dig a line where you want to plant your hedging. The line needs to be 60-90cm wide and 30cm deep. If you have weeds in the area, then add some weedkiller. Do not add organic matter to the trench; this can cause the shrub to sink.

Updated on July 20, 2023

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