Hedges provide homeowners with a viable privacy option in place of fencing. This type of living fence requires regular maintenance for the hedge to remain healthy and screen the property. Hedges can be beautiful with proper care and can be used to mark property lines, block unsightly equipment or simply to spruce up the landscape. Learning how to grow hedges involves providing the best circumstances for initial planting of the hedge plants and pruning the plants to control growth. These functional plants can be a beautiful addition to the landscape with proper care.
Purchase hedges appropriate for the planned location. Consider light availability, soil quality, maintenance and privacy needs. Schedule planting in the spring to allow for a long growing season to increase the strength of the plants.
Read the label on each plant to determine the appropriate spacing. Spacing refers to the planting distance from other hedges plants. This allows for expansion as the plant grows to a mature height and width. Proper spacing will improve lower-level foliage and the overall fullness of the hedge as it matures.
Prepare the soil area by removing all weeds from the garden area. Dig up weeds by the root and dig deeply to remove grass from the planting site. Healthy garden plantings have no competition with weeds or grass for available soil nutrients and moisture.
Stir up the garden area using the spade shovel to a depth of at least 10 inches. Loosening the soil by turning it over eases the spread of roots for newly planted shrubs.
Smooth the garden surface with a rake and apply a 3-inch layer of compost or peat to the garden. Work this layer into the top 10 inches of soil using the shovel. Proper soil preparation with organic additives improves water retention, breaks up compacted soil and incorporates important nutrients into the soil around the roots.
Dig individual holes two times the size of root ball of the hedge plants. Space each hole at least 12 inches apart. Stagger the holes to create a thick, deep hedge.
Place each plant into a hole and adjust the height so the top of the root ball lies 1 to 2 inches beneath the soil surface. Fill in around the plant and firm the soil. Add extra soil until the area reaches the surrounding garden level.
Water around each individual plant directly into the soil instead of simply sprinkling the leaves. This deep watering will penetrate the roots of the plant to encourage quick acclimation to the new planting spot.
Prune the hedge the spring after initial planting using hedge clippers or pruning loppers. Clip back the bush so the top of the shrub is smaller than the bottom to let light inside the interior of the hedge. See the link in Resources for more on pruning hedges.