top of page

Installing a hedge? Use this guide

Picking the right option for a hedge can be tricky as there are lots of factors to consider before you make your choice. Botany expert Rebecca Hughes gives her advice

Hedges look good but they also serve a purpose. Trees or shrubs planted as hedging form a framework on which the garden connects – so, to choose the right hedging plant for the right position, you must consider the client’s purpose.

For example, are they planting for shade, screening, shelter for stock, foliage, or to attract wildlife or feed the birds? Perhaps they want a hedge to balance the structure of the garden or to frame a view.

Before any of those aims can be accomplished, there are several important factors for a landscaper and client to consider.

First of all, make sure to select a hedge that makes sense for the amount of space the client has. This means knowing how high and wide the hedge will grow.

Can the client keep up with maintenance?

Another important factor to consider is whether the tree selected has future maintenance issues that a client will struggle to provide? Nothing divides neighbours faster than encroaching plants, blocked views, or blocked light!

Is this hedge going to grow into a neighbour’s space, power lines or have roots invading drains? How long will a client wait for an established hedge?

Also, consider shelter from the wind, staking in early stages, pest protection (if an issue), good drainage and adequate sunlight as well as wind/frost hardiness. Planting for bees, butterflies and birds might also be attractive to a client and there are many options for this purpose.

Hedging trees are best planted in autumn and winter but, if water is available, you can plant them all year round. Do you know how tall the hedge will be? As an industry standard, most nurseries will list the height of a tree or shrub as five or 10 years old, so make sure you check beforehand.

Consider these timeless classics

Plant selections for screening hedges are typically evergreens that grow to between two and four metres tall. However, directional plantings, such as those used along a path, are typically up to a metre tall. Classic hedging options include:

Alternatively, you could investigate using some of the options above as a ‘fedge’. This is relatively new as a landscaping trend in New Zealand, but common in Britain and Europe. A fedge is plantings grown as both a hedge and a fence, typically using thorny species such as Hawthorn. Whilst a fedge can save thousands on fencing, it does require time and patience, so it may not be right for every client.

Rebecca Hughes has an honours degree in Botany and a background in education as National Training Manager.

For the Horticulture Industry Training Organization (ITO) and General Manager for the Community Support Services ITO. She currently works with Blue Mountain Nurseries, a family-run wholesale and retail plant nursery based in Tapanui with a passion for plants since 1932.


bottom of page