Plant Hedges in Innovative Designs

Shaina Oliphant
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Plant hedges can be very useful around the garden. A tall row of mirror leaf viburnum or podocarpus can reach great heights, creating a privacy hedge from neighboring yards and providing a lush green backdrop for interior plantings.

On a smaller scale, a waist-high planting hedge of pittosporum or eugenia can define a landscape when spaced in rows around the perimeter of your home. Here are even more ways to use hedges to add more interest to your garden:

Trim Hedges Into Precise Parterres

Parterres Garden

For the look of a formal European garden, symmetry and precise clipping are key. The French parterre, a symmetrical arrangement of planting beds edged with immaculately trimmed hedges or stone, has been used in landscape and garden design for centuries, perhaps most notably at the Ch√Ęteau de Versailles in France.

You can get this look by planting symmetrical beds with hedges of dense slow-growing shrubs with small leaves such as boxwood (Buxus). Trim hedges into geometrical shapes and fill the space between the hedges with stone or mulch to accent the hedge or complement them with creative in-plantings such as herbs or ornamental grasses. To minimize maintenance, don’t plant a fast growing hedge.

Shape Hedging Plants Into Unique Features

Close up of hedging plants

If perfect symmetry is not your thing, why not choose a shape that inspires you? For instance, you could plant low tight hedges in a linked or figure 8 formation around large containers filled with citrus or ornamental trees. Define flower beds with a hedge of the appropriate height, tall enough to define the space without hiding the interior foliage. Then choose contrasting colors to add drama.

 

 

Plant Hedges For All-Season Interest

Close-up of all-season hedge plant

The most important element of any landscape design lies in plant combinations, and hedges are no exception. For year-round color choose plants with vibrant foliage or combine plants with different blooming cycles to ensure that no matter the season, something will always be flourishing.

In more tropical climates, plant hedges using one of the many brightly colored croton with leafy green variegated monstera and gold mound duranta. The foliage of these plants will remain vibrant throughout the year.

In northern climates, try layering Summersweet (Clethra) (blooms in midsummer) with Evergreen azalea (Rhododendron) or euonymus (blooms in late fall), and Winter Daphne.

Best Hedges For Adding Texture And Layers

Close-up of hedges plant

A trio of shrubs planted in rows to create a wide hedge of cascading heights can add texture and contrast to your garden.

In colder climates start with Dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea) or Arborvitae (Thuja) varieties such as Nigra American, globe or emerald green. The feathery green texture of these evergreens will complement the well-defined fluted edge of Dwarf yaupon holly (Ilex) or the lacy blooms of weigela. A row of compact, slow-growing Dwarf Fothergilla, with its thistle-like blooms, sets off this look.

In areas with year-round warmth, plant hedges of sea grape (Coccoloba). Its sculptural branches and large round leaves in varying shades of green and gold will add vertical interest. Pair the colorful blooms of Althea (Hibiscus) with a low row of ficus ‘Green Island’. The small plump leaves of this ficus can be tightly clipped for definition. This combination is also very wind and salt tolerant, making it ideal for oceanfront locations.

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