Hedges are the skillful planting of shrubs or small trees for the purpose of providing privacy for the home. Hedges also protect areas of the home from strong winds, mark boundaries in the home landscape and may be used as a barrier against animals. Hedges are dense and compact plants. Plants with medium or finely shaped leaves that grow close together make better hedges than those with coarse-looking leaves. Hedges are a lot of work to plant and maintain.
Mark out the shrub planting area using string and stakes. Small, formal hedges require 6 to 8 inches of space between each plant and 18 to 30 inches for larger plants, according to the Purdue University Extension.
Test the soil using a pH test to determine whether the pH is suitable for the shrubs used as the hedge. The appropriate pH for most ornamental plants is from 5.8 to 6.5, recommends the Clemson University Extension.
Dig the marked out area into a trench. Make the hole 2 to 4 inches higher than the shrub's planting depth at the nursery for poorly draining soil and at the same depth for good soil. Dig so the trench is two to five times the size of the rootball. Remove unwanted vegetation at this time.
Tap all dirt off the shrub's rootball on a hard surface and cut off any sick or broken roots.
Pile dirt around the rootball area to create a 3-inch-tall water ring to keep water concentrated in the area around the rootball.
Place the shrubs evenly spaced into the trench and build dirt around the rootball. Add soil amendments such as compost to the soil, mixing in as you fill the hole. Organic matter should comprise 10 to 20 percent of the soil volume added to the dig site. For example, an 8-inch hole will require 1 to 2 inches of compost. Do not compact soil on top of the rootball to ensure good drainage and oxygen flow.
Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch on top of the trench and water thoroughly.