If you are thinking of planting a hedge this year now is a great time to do it. Bare-root plants are still available up until the end of March and a hedge planted now will get the full benefits of the coming growing season and should be well established by the time winter comes around again. Hedges serve many purposes, along with defining boundaries and providing shelter from strong winds, hedges can be used to give privacy, to divide one area of the garden from another or to hide unsightly objects such as sheds and compost heaps from view.
   While almost everyone has their own opinion on what makes a good hedge, it is worth remembering that a hedge is simply a line of trees or shrubs planted close together and cut to shape. Before settling on a particular type of hedging, you should first ask yourself a number of questions. These include: What height do you want the hedge to grow to? How quickly do you want it to grow? Do you want a formal or a natural looking hedge? Do you want your hedge to be evergreen?
   While pretty much any plant can be trained into forming a hedge below is a selection of some of the more popular hedging plant available.

BEECH “Fagus”
Beech is probably the most popular deciduous hedge on the market. Available with either green or red leaves, beech hedging requires fairly fertile free draining soil to thrive. If pruned in the late summer beech will hold on to its brown leaves through the winter months. When planting beech should be spaced about 12 inches apart.

GRISELINIA “Griselinia Littoralis”
An easy to grow hedge, that will thrive in any garden soil and whose supple branches and glossy leaves are little affected by strong winds and sea breezes. This is a quick growing and requires clipping about twice a year. Plants should be spaced about 18 inches apart.

ESCALLONIA “Escalloniaceae”
This fast growing plant makes a beautiful free flowering, glossy, evergreen hedge, which forms an ideal wind break in costal regions and provides brilliant red flowers throughout the summer. Plants should be spaced about 18 inches apart.

LAUREL “Laurus”
This easy to grow hedge is prized by many people for its evergreen, glossy leaves, which provide an elegant shelterbelt against the elements. This hedge greatly benefits from a good clipping in the late summer. Plants should be spaced about 2 feet apart.

BOX HEDGNG “Buxus Sempervirens”
One of the best known hedging plants because of its ability to adapt to all soil types, its hardiness, and its slow growth rate. Due to its slow growth rate this type of hedging can be clipped to form decorative features in the garden. It can also be used to make a formal surround for borders or shrub beds. Prune to the required shape or height in august or September. Plants should be spaced about 12 inches apart.

LEYLANDII “Leyland Cypress”
This type of hedging is extremely popular because of its fast growth rate, its ability to adapt to any soil and its resilience to pollution. This plant is excellent for forming tall hedges and windbreaks. The ‘Castlewellan Gold’ variety of Leylandii is possibly the most common type of this hedge due to its golden yellow foliage in spring, which turns to bronze-green in winter. Trim once or twice a year. Plants should be spaced about 3 feet apart.
© Copyright, Highland Landscapes, Letterkenny, 2008.