The most effective hedges are evergreen, because they offer the greatest protection and privacy, hut some deciduous plants also make attractive, if less dense, hedges in the winter. Thorny hedges, such as rugosa roses, can form effective obstacles against roaming animals as well as intruders.
Traditional garden hedges tend to be formal and closely clipped to a desired height and outline. They must be trimmed at least once a year (two or three times with some of the more vigorous plants) to grow well; also, replace the nutrients lost when the hedge clippings are taken away—these hedges tend to compete with nearby plants for nourishment. However, an informal hedge can be created quite easily by planting a row of flowering shrubs; this type of hedge has the advantage of needing pruning only once a year, after flowering.
The best time for planting depends on the type of plants. Deciduous plants are cheaper bought bare root in bundles for planting between late autumn and early spring, while broad-leaved evergreens and conifers are usually available as container-grown plants, which may be planted in early autumn or from late spring to early summer.
A hedge is a long-term planting, so the soil should be well prepared beforehand; the plants must be trimmed regularly for the first few years, to encourage the growth to become thick and bushy at the base. Spacing depends to some degree on the speed of growth of the chosen plant, as well as its habit. As a guide, tall, narrow plants such as privet are spaced at 2-ft. intervals, and spreading plants such as barberry (Berberis) or rugosa roses at 3 ft. You can plant in a straight line or in a diagonally spaced staggered row. The latter creates a thicker, denser hedge.
The first year’s growth (left) Once planted, /or ihe/irst season keep (he soil weed-tree and well walered during dry periods.