Which plants to choose for hedging?

Home-grown hedges make cheap boundary markers, good wind breaks and shelter belts. And if you are prepared to wait, can be grown simply from hard-wood cuttings poked into place in the ground.

The cheapest deciduous hedging is haw-thorn, the cheapest evergreen hedging privet.

A compromise choice is beech or horn-beam, both of which are technically deciduous but retain their brown leaves through the winter.

Quick growing hedges for instant effect like privet and leylandii need a great deal of maintenance and frequent clipping if they are to look tidy.

The easiest hedging to grow and maintain is either box or holly. If you want berries on your holly, but mainly female plants, with one plant out of six a male to pollinate them.

Pyracantha (firethorn) is another good hedging plant which gives bright red berries, but if you clip it constantly you will not get a very good crop.

Cotoneaster franchtii makes a good alternative evergreen, with orange berries in the autumn. After planting, cut back the top third to encourage bushy growth at the bottom of the hedge.

Chinese bush honeysuckle makes a dense evergreen hedge with purple berries in the autumn, and it grows happily in the shade. Another bush honeysuckle, lonicera nitida can be used for topiary too.

Sea buckthorn makes a tough windbreak hedge for coastal and other exposed areas. Plant male and female plants, as with holly and you will get bright orange berries. These last all winter as the birds hate them.

Forsythia x intermedia makes a neat upright hedge, growing to 8ft (2.5m) or more, covered with masses of brilliant yellow flowers just when you need them in early spring. Also interesting articles here.

Berberis darwinii makes a colourful evergreen hedge with yellow-orange flower in spring followed by blue berries.

Cherry laurel is another evergreen choice with white flowers in spring followed by black fruits.

Roses can make a good impenetrable hedge, the best variety is Queen Elizabeth.

The hardy fuchsia, fuchsia magellanica is a colourful choice in the warmer parts of the country. Ricartonii for instance, with red and purple flowers is good in the south.

For fragrant dwarf hedging try rosemary or some of the lavenders- Dutch (about 18”) (1/2m); and English (about 3ft) (1m).

Newly planted hedges should have the top third removed to encourage plenty of bushy growth low down. Trim them only very little in their first year of growth to let them get established.

Elderly hedges should be trimmed so that they taper in at the top to encourage fresh growth down below.

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