Hedges function as a reliable design tool in the landscape. Gardeners use hedges to define space, block unwanted views, restrict access and create a living fence on a property. Planting hedges requires careful selection of plants that match the growing conditions of the landscape. Hedges become reliable, permanent landscape features with proper care and maintenance.
Planting Time and Selection
Schedule planting of hedge plants in late spring. Purchase plants from a nursery or as bare root cultivars from mail order garden centers. Look for compact growth and healthy foliage. Avoid plants exhibiting stress, with dried soil, dead foliage or brittle branches. Flexible stems and branches should bounce back easily when bent slightly back. Examine the soil for even moisture levels to the container bottom. Tip the plant sideways and look for roots protruding from the drainage hole of the pot. Roots expansion throughout the container ensures progressed maturity of the plant. Healthy bare root hedge plants appear firm and fresh like the inside of a potato. Look for even coloring and no drying of the root mass.
Since hedge plants form a permanent feature in the landscape, soil preparation proves key to the success of the plant. Remove weeds and till the soil to a depth of 12 to 18 inches. Take a soil sample to the garden center for analysis before planting. Cultivation improves aeration and water-holding ability of the soil. It also provides the best environment for easy root spreading through the loosened soil. Amend the soil with organic material and other additives if required by the soil analysis results.
Hedges rarely form an adequate privacy screen with a single plant. To create a uniform hedge, dig a trench in the garden bed to accommodate all the hedge plants. Consult the recommended spacing on the label provided with each plant. Smaller hedge plants require at least 8 inches between plants. Place larger hedge plants 20 to 30 inches apart in the trench. For dense hedges, stagger the plants into two rows, using the recommended spacing for each specimen. Plant each cultivar exactly as the plant grew in its container environment with the top of the root ball right below the soil level. Look for the dirt mark on the main stem of the plant. This point marks the maximum planting depth. Apply a 1-to-2-inch layer of mulch over firmed soil to increase moisture retention in the garden.