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Weekly Gardening Tips for Your Area


Define Your Space With A Hedge

R. L. Rhodes
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A hedge is simply a row of shrubs planted closely together. The veritable wall that they form can serve a number of purposes, be it as a living fence, a windbreak or a means of giving structure to your landscape.

Skill level

  • Intermediate

Time Required

  • Half hour per shrub to be planted



Step one: Plan Your Hedge

Before you start digging or planting, sit down with pencil and paper. You can save yourself a lot of trouble by planning out your hedge in advance. Start with a scale diagram of your yard so you can best plan how to use the space you want to plant.

Step two: Select Your Plants

Use our plant database to research the shrubs you want to use. For example, you’ll want to know their approximate spread when full grown so that you can effectively plan how many to plant in each row. Be sure to choose plants that grow to the approximate height of the hedge you want for your property. And bear in mind the maintenance demands of plants so that you don’t end up committing yourself to more pruning and care than you can handle each year.

For the basics, try one of the following:

  • Not sure which zone you live in? Click this map to expand.

    Zones 2-7: Lower-temperature climates call for a hardy evergreen. With its flat, spray-like shoots and its potential for reaching tall heights, Arborvitae is perfect for privacy hedges. If you prefer to add more color to your property, lilac can also withstand relatively low temperatures and produces fragrant trusses of blooms in a variety of hues.

  • Zones 3-9: Highly versatile, juniper can be found in a range of sizes. Its hardiness and amenability to pruning makes it ideal for hedges in a range of landscape types.
  • Zones 5-9: For well-groomed formal hedges, it’s hard to beat the classic boxwood. Hardy enough to put up with rigorous shearing and shaping, boxwoods provide evergreen appeal to your landscape. For less formal hedges, consider a cypress shrub.
  • Zones 8-11: For regions with soaring temperatures, something more durable may be required. Oleander stands up to the heat and can tolerate relatively low annual rainfall. Be sure to exercise caution around pets and children, though, as oleander is toxic if ingested.

Step three: Planting

Dig plots for each plant to the depth recommended for that particular plant, or a single trench for planting them all at once. If there is some concern over whether your soil will be fertile enough to support so many new plants, apply some manure or compost to the hole. Be sure to space plants evenly and close enough together that the foliage of each plant will grow flush against that of its neighbor. Requirements will differ depending on the type of shrub, but the following table can be used as a rule of thumb:

For… plant…
a small hedge, 6-8 inches apart;
a medium hedge, about 12 inches apart;
a tall hedge, 18-30 inches apart.

Plants for informal hedges can be spaced further apart. For more tips, see our article on planting shrubs and trees for Autumn.

Need shrubs for the hedge you’re planning? Take a stroll through the plants, bulbs and trees at the Home Depot Garden Center. Want to add privacy to your yard, but don’t have time to maintain a hedge? Try a fence installed by the Home Depot Installation Services team.


Got questions about this article or any other garden topic? Go here now to post your gardening ideas, questions, kudos or complaints. We have gardening experts standing by to help you!