An evergreen hedge remains green year-round, unlike deciduous varieties that defoliate and become barren in the winter. There are many varieties of evergreen hedges to screen an area of your property from curious gazes of neighbors or nosy onlookers on the street, and some form an impenetrable barrier.
There are many types of broad- and narrow-leaved, flowering and non-flowering evergreen screening hedges that differ in growth habits and soil requirements. Common types include American holly, "green giant" thuja, mountain laurel, bougainvillea, juniper, wax myrtle, common boxwood and Indian hawthorn.
According to the Purdue University Cooperative extension, hedges provide privacy while enhancing the beauty of the landscape. They also serve as windbreaks, demarcate boundaries along property lines or drives and establish a private, protected and serene atmosphere. The University of Tennessee Extension says the low branches and compact, dense foliage of most evergreen hedges create a visual barrier and reduce loud or high-pitched traffic sounds.
The broad-leaved American holly grows up to 45 feet tall at maturity and features thorny leaves and red berries, while the green giant thuja is a prolific climber and adds 5 feet every year until it grows 60 feet tall. The flowering mountain laurel adds color to the area, featuring star-shaped flowers in clusters of red, white or pink. Bougainvillea is a pest-free and easy-to-care-for privacy hedge that features a beautiful display of vibrant colors in the flowering season. Grow the drought-resistant juniper in a small area; it grows up to 15 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Female wax myrtle plants feature tiny waxy berries and grow quickly to reach heights of up to 20 feet. Common boxwood is a compact, dense evergreen hedge. Grey dogwood has a dense, compact habit and grows up to 15 feet tall. It features white flowers in midsummer. The Indian hawthorn features pink blooms in spring and, depending on the variety, grows between 2 to 5 feet tall.
Train the hedge appropriately to give it a symmetrical and uniformed look. Purdue University Cooperative Extension suggests trimming 6 inches off for every 12-inch growth. Cut the sides proportionately, and never allow the top to become wider than the bottom, as it weakens the hedge. Depending on personal taste, train the top to remain flat or rounded.
American holly may need winter protection in Northern areas. Plant green giant thuja in large, open spaces to allow it to grow and spread. Mountain laurel requires partial shade and moist, well-draining soil. Support bougainvilleas with a trellis to encourage the plant to grow upward. Grow wax myrtle in sandy soils. Common boxwood and its cultivars are slow-growing; consider fast-growing alternatives if immediate screening is required. Although the Indian hawthorn requires little water, making it ideal for dry areas, it is susceptible to deer foraging that leaves it looking like a trampled mess.