Hedges are more than just a group of plants that stands in a row. They’re often used as focal points, or to highlight a garden focal point, improve privacy, line walkways, and mark property lines. They can also be used to provide the perfect roosting and nesting spots for your backyard birds. If you’ve tried growing hedges in the past, with no success, only to have them die after a month of two, then you may not have planted them correctly. Learning how to plant a hedge the right way can increase its chance of survival can allow it to grow thicker and faster, with just a little TLC and know-how.
Choosing the Right Hedges for Your Yard
Starting off, your first step is choosing a disease and pest-resistant hedge that works with your current garden conditions and climate. You may want to plant hedges and shrubs that flower all year or a denser variety that can provide more privacy around the yard. But whichever type you choose, make sure the plant is healthy and very low-maintenance. Moderate and slow-growing hedges are often the best choice since faster growing hedges are usually high maintenance. Formal, tidy-looking hedges will require regular upkeep and the use of the hedge shears to keep them looking well-cared for while promoting growth. Other, low-maintenance varieties will only require the occasional trim and watering.
The type of hedges you choose should also be based on the style you’re looking for. A formal hedge features a solid form that’s designed to neatly frame a yard or garden, whereas the informal hedge offers the type of layered effect that some homeowners are looking for, allowing you to choose flowering plants of varying heights for a fuller-looking yard or garden. Additionally, a flowering shrub can provide a yard with a colorful effect that a standard fence can’t compete with. If you’re planning out your yard or garden, begin by measuring the length of the available space in the yard and take into consideration how fast a particular species of hedge grows in order to determine how many you’ll need to plant.
The Planting Process
Mark and stake the planting area in your yard, whether it’s curved or straight. For a guide, you can use a measuring tape. Make sure that you also take into consideration any underground utilities in the area, when you’re searching for the perfect spot to plant your hedge. You’ll want to avoid planting any hedges over utilities.
Spacing the Plants Appropriately
Space out each of the plants according to their potential growth, providing them with more than enough room to reach their mature size. You can also stagger plants in a couple of rows if you want a hedge that’s thicker. This will allow your hedge to fill in faster.
Marking the Area
Keep in mind the mature width of each plant when you’re spacing them. You can use the pots in order to mark the place for each of the planting holes.
Take Shrubs Out of the Pots
The next step is digging the planting holes, after which, you’ll remove the shrubs from their pots and put them in place. Be sure to check the spacing, ensuring they’ll have plenty of room to grow. The last step is filling in each of the holes.
Make a ring of soil around each of the shrubs, along the outer edge of each of the planting holes. This will help it to hold water. Each shrub should be watered thoroughly and as needed throughout the season.
Place three inches of shredded mulch between each plant and keep the mulch away from the stems in order to allow the water to reach deep down to the roots.
If you want to provide privacy for a bathroom window, then a smaller hedge isn’t going to cut it. This is why doing your own research is so important. You need to know how tall the shrubs will grow and how long it takes them to reach maturity in terms of width and height. Once you’ve decided on how you want the shrub to grow you can begin to narrow down your choices. Are you willing to do regular lawn maintenance and stay on top of pruning and trimming? Certain types of shrubs, such as the formal variety will require shearing often. Other types of shrubs will need to be hand-pruned in order to shape them appropriately. Low-maintenance shrubs don’t require much work. Consider how you want your yard to look year long. Some shrubs are a great choice for a particular season, but they may look drab the rest of the year.
Is There a Way to Grow Hedges Faster?
Yes, there is. Some people think that maintaining or growing a hedge involves a lot of work, but the entire process is pretty straightforward. If you’ve ever planted a shrub or tree, then you can easily establish a hedge quickly, without running into any issues.
Hedges are defined as a line of closely spaced low trees, shrubs, or bushes that are planted in order to form a barrier.
If you want to use a hedge in place of a fence, then you’ll need to carefully plan before you plant. If you plant your living fence in the wrong spot on your property, the shrubs can suffer breakage from animals and plants, which can lead to stunted growth. Because of this, choosing the right spot for the hedge will be crucial. The right places for a hedge are at the boundaries and edges of your yard.
Next, consider the max height you’re looking for. Fences are used for privacy and security purposes, in which case, you’ll want to plant shrubs that grow as tall as possible, based on the height rules of your municipal council or city. Keep in mind, taller shrubs are difficult to maintain. They can be a challenge to spray, shear, or trim. If you don’t want to deal with all the hard work that’s involved with managing this type of living fence, then you can settle for shorter shrubs, which may not offer the type of privacy you’re looking for, but they can definitely add some beauty to your property, especially when it comes to shrubs that flower all year.
Growing the Best Hedge
A hedge can be established from trees, bushes, vines, or shrubs. In order to choose the right plants for your living fence, then you need to consider what the purpose of this fence is, your personal preferences, the type of soil you have in your yard, and what the climate is like.
- If you’re looking for a hedge that’s impenetrable, then you’ll want to go with the thorny variety, such as blackthorn or hawthorns. Other types of thorny shrubs can include prickly ash or jujube.
- If you want a fence that’s multifunctional, then you can combine a number of shrub types. This type of hedge consists of both low and high growing plants, which can be trees or shrubs.
- I definitely recommend going with plants that are fast and easy to propagate, and those that are pliable and resistant to diseases, pests, and droughts.
- For establishing a hedge, the privet shrub is a great choice, but it’s also pretty rare, which means you may have a hard time finding it at your local nursery. But if you want to save a lot of hassle, time, and money, then put in the legwork to find this shrub.
- These are evergreen plants that will take only a couple of months to develop and form a hedge. They provide beauty, privacy, and security, are low-maintenance and can thrive in all types of soil.
Deciduous Versus Evergreen
You can choose which type of hedge is right for your yard whether you want a deciduous or evergreen hedge. Most homeowners opt for evergreen since they add aesthetic value to homes and can reduce snow and noise. Some of the most popular evergreen shrubs include:
But deciduous plants can also beautify a property, although they cannot do so all year long since they will shed their leaves during the fall months. If you’re interested in planting this type of shrub in your yard, then I recommend the following varieties:
- Western red cedar
- Portuguese laurel
A shrub will grow bushier and can take up more space compared to a tree, so if you decide to go with shrubs, then you’ll need to plan on a higher width requirement. If you have plenty of space in your yard, then plan for a width that can accommodate multiple rows. If you’re tight on space, then you’ll have to settle for a single row hedge, in which case, you may want to opt for trees instead of shrubs.
As I mentioned earlier spacing is important, but even more so if you’ve decided to grow a living fence. Consider the desired fence thickness and strength. If you want the shrubs to grow wider as they mature, then you’ll need to provide wider spacing. If you want to grow a strong, thicker fence, then consider narrow spacing.
Hedge Planting Tips: The Live Fence
Use wooden stakes, markers, and some string to survey the area. Fix the stakes in the ground, surrounding the planting area, then, tie some string between each of the stakes and use the markers at regular intervals. You should be able to dig trenches or planting holes based on the guided markers.
The planting process isn’t and shouldn’t be complicated, whether you’re dealing with root sprouts, cuttings, seedlings, or seeds. The key here is to ensure you have the right amount of planting materials. With each type of planting material, you need to ensure that you plant the whole area within a matter of days in order to establish a hedge that’s uniform. Root sprouts and seedlings are the most commonly used planting material when it comes to creating a living fence, and they can be installed easily by simply transplanting them to the marked area. If you decide to use seeds, then you’ll need to place them in trenches or holes and cover them completely with soil. For cuttings, you’ll have to insert them in the trench or holes and cover them partially with soil.
Providing Plant Support
Staking a plant will encourage it to grow upright, so it’s a great way to establish a fuller, uniform fence. In order to stake each shrub, you’ll need to use stakes, wire, or string. If the fence you’ve created is wider, then you may also need to include some rails for additional row support.
Using these materials, you’ll need to fix the stakes in the ground and use wire or string to provide a framework that’s supportive. If the shrubs need additional support, then add the rails and fix them to the stakes using small nails or more wire.
A living fence can easily be destroyed by animals including wildlife or the family dog or cat. Because of this, it’s important that you take preventative measures to keep any animals away from the hedge. Installing a simple wire fence around the hedge is one of the best ways to keep animals out. Once your hedge grows strong enough to withstand wear and tear from animals, then you can remove the fence.
Trimming shrubs or trees is a great way to easily achieve the desired width or height. It will also help to train the shrubs or trees, encouraging lateral branch growth, which will make your hedge stronger, thicker, and bushier. In order to trim a hedge, you can use the best hedge shears in order to cut back any longer or taller branches. This will allow you to sculpt the fence into a more attractive shape. For more tips, click here to read my guide on how to trim, prune, and shape, shrubs and bushes.
Disease and Pest Protection
Weeds will usually compete with living fences for nutrients and water, so you’ll need to prevent them from taking over and stealing nutrients that should go to your shrubs. Additionally, diseases and pests can also cause stunted growth and can cause shrubs to wither.
You can use a weeding tool to control weeds, removing them as they grow closer to your hedge. You can also use herbicides or uproot them. To control diseases and pests, you can use the right type of chemical to kill off harmful disease-causing micro-organisms and organisms, or you can uproot or cut any portion of the hedge that has been affected, in order to prevent the spread of disease or a pest infestation. Keep in mind, living fences tend to attract beneficial animals, birds, and insects. You will want to keep these beneficial organisms safe when you treat the shrubs for diseases, pests, and weeds.
Other Hedge Growing Tips
- I cannot stress enough the importance of testing your soil prior to picking out shrubs and buying them. If you don’t know much about soil conditions and what type of shrubs would thrive in your yard, then speak to the staff at your local nursery.
- Topiary is an art form in its own right, and it allows you to get really creative with the hedges in and around your yard. If you’re interested in giving your yard an artistic flair, and you want to try out this unique gardening art form, then make sure that you’ve chosen the right type of shrubs. Not all shrubbery is easy to shape and not all with thrive with the type of constant upkeep and trimming required. Again, if you’re not certain which type of shrubs is a good choice for topiary, speak with the staff at your local nursery or home improvement store.
- While it may not seem like it, some shrubs can be incredibly expensive. If you don’t have the budget to get the type of shrubs you want or need, or the amount required to create that thick protective hedge or living fence that you want, then hold off on getting it until you do. Otherwise, you can end up stuck with a fence or hedge that’s too short or thin, which means it won’t be able to provide the protection, privacy, or shelter that you need it to.
Growing a living fence or a standard hedge can provide your yard with privacy, security, and beauty. You can even grow an impressively strong hedge that you can use to protect your property from threatening snow, loud noise, and harsh wind. Learning how to grow a hedge isn’t complicated. In fact, it’s easy to grow one quickly and make it thicker, fuller, and bushier, by following the steps that I’ve included here. If you’ve been planning on growing a living fence for some time, keep in mind the important steps and tips that I’ve included in this guide and you should have no trouble growing a large and thick, protective fence or standard hedge, in a matter of months.