Best Shrubs for Hedges

Tall and Small Shrubs to Use in Hedge Landscaping

Different types of shrubs for hedges. Advice for choosing hedge shrubs. How to choose flowering shrubs suitable for hedging. Tips for pruning hedges. Where to buy discount shrubs online.


Box parterre at Pinewood Estate in Lake Wales, Florida.

Boxwood - Green Velvet
from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.

If I had to nominate a single genus for best hedge shrub, I would have to go with box. The various (there are at least 70) Buxus species make extraordinarily attractive hedges.

Boxwood hedges are dense and long-lived. The small, glossy leaves of box were made for close clipping.

Boxwood shrubs can be trimmed into any shape imaginable.

There are dwarf and tall varieties, variegated leaves and different shades of green. These features make Buxus the most versatile of ornamental shrubs.

Choosing Shrubs for Hedges

Boxwood shrubs form a low-growing, formal hedge in a Savannah, GA front yard landscape design.

Juniper - Blue Point
from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.

Landscape hedges are functional plants.

They form the walls of an outdoor space and act as dividers.

Unlike annuals and perennials, they provide permanent structure in the landscape. Hedges can be used to mark boundary lines and to keep things in of out or an area.

Before you can choose shrubs for hedges, you must know what you want the hedge to accomplish.

Do you want a low-growing, purely decorative hedge like the one in the image just above? Or are you looking to plant a privacy hedge?

The same plant might not serve both these purposes.

Do your neighbors have a dog you would like to keep out of your flower beds?

Something dense, thorny and tall enough to prevent the wandering canine from jumping over it is what you need.

Privacy Shrubs for Hedges

A tall Podocarpus hedge forms a dark backdrop for a blue Agave plant.

What looks like a low hedge in front of the Agave,

is actually a wall draped with vines. This is a sneaky way to make hardscape look like softscape.

Privacy shrubs need to grow tall and densely enough to keep out prying eyes. Podocarpus macrophyllus is one such plant. Others include:

All types of citrus

Buxus sempervirens

Fraser's Photinia

Yew

Nellie Stevens Holly

Hybrid Willow

Buckthorn - Fine Line®
from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.

Holly - Nellie Stevens
from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.


Fragrant Shrubs for Hedges

A low hedge of 'Louis Philippe' roses.

Rose - Easy Elegance® Kiss Me
from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.

Rose shrubs are the number one choice for fragrant flowering hedges.

'Louis Philippe', a.k.a. the cracker rose, is an antique China rose which is easy to grow but may be hard to find.

The similar and more readily available double Knockout rose could be substituted for it.

Characteristics to look for in a landscape hedge rose:

  • Compact growth and dense foliage.
  • Disease resistance.
  • Heavy bloom. The more flowers, the more fragrance.
  • Repeat bloom. Ditto.
  • Fragrance. All roses are beautiful, but not all are aromatic. Make sure you check before purchasing.
  • Pruning Hedge Roses

    Informal pruning will be necessary as shearing will remove most of the flower buds.

    Fragrant Hedge Plants That Can Take Shearing:

  • Citrus
  • Tea Olive
  • Lakeview Jasmine
  • Pittosproum
  • All of the above will retain enough blooms when sheared to scent the area near the hedge.

    Flowering Evergreen Shrubs

    Azalea shrubs add color to the landscape even when sheared.

    Azalea - Hot Shot Girard
    from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.

    Azaleas are low maintenance spring flowering shrubs. There are dwarf and tall types and, although azaleas are best known as shade loving shrubs, they will adapt to full sun if enough moisture is supplied.

    The fragrant shrubs listed above are all flowering evergreens, as well. Indian hawthorne, Viburnum, Gardenias and Skimmia japonica could also be used.

    The red hedges make this parterre garden even more attractive.

    Burning Bush Shrubs 50% Off!

    Flowering shrubs go in and out of bloom. The following bushes will add color to your landscape designs 24/7:

    Red or Purple

    Red tip (Photinia)

    Burgundy or Ruby Loropetalum

    Purple leaf plum

    Gold or Yellow

    Weeping 'Gold Mop' false cypress

    Thuja orientalis 'Aurea Nana'

    Euonymus fortunei 'Gold Splash'

    Low Growing Shrubs for Hedges

    Above, Podocarpus macrophyllus is used as a low hedge around the vegetable garden at Pinewood Estate. This is a perfect example of a large plant being kept small with trimming.

    The same thing is often done with box.

    While you can do this, you don't have to. There are many dwarf shrubs you could use to make low hedges instead.

    There are dwarf azaleas, dwarf varieties of Indian hawthorne, Boxwood 'Wee Willie' and other dwarf Buxus varieties.

    If you live in a warm climate and want something unique, plant a row of coontie palms. They are tough as nails and, here in Florida, we use them just like any other landscaping shrub.


    Tips for Pruning Hedges

    Garden of Sculpted Shrubs, France.

    There are three types of hedges: formal, informal and naturalistic.

    Most of the hedges depicted on this page are formal. These are pruned by shearing.

    Naturalistic hedges are never sheared but may be pruned to shape each year or allowed to grow as nature dictates.

    Natural hedges require more space than sheared hedges. This is why they are so seldom used in today's smaller landscapes.

    Informal hedges are comprised of different types of shrubs. Due to the variability in the growth habits of the different plants, they are always pruned naturalistically. This is done by removing weak, broken or crossing stems each spring.

    You may also remove wayward shoots that mar the beauty of the planting at any time of year.

    Ideas and Instructions for Pruning Shrubs

    Sheared Hedge Pruning Tips

    1. The top of a sheared hedge should be slightly narrower than the bottom. Otherwise, the top may shade the bottom and cause it to defoliate.
    2. For best results, your hedge will need to be sheared every time it puts on 1/4-1/2 inch of growth. Letting it grow more than this before trimming it leads to "bald" spots.
    3. Don't forget to take the growth rate of the shrub into consideration when choosing shrubs for hedges. Some plants will only need to be sheared once per year. Others will require 4-5 times as much maintenance.
    Discover an easy way to grow your own food!

    Variegated Shrubs:

    The Gold Dust Plant: Illuminate the Shade Garden

    Variegated Bouganivilleas 'Raspberry Ice' & 'Golden Ice'

    The Green and Yellow Scheflerra arboricola

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