Shrubs and small trees are used to establish hedges as boundaries between public and private spaces in the landscape. Hedges are also a source of food and shelter to birds and other wildlife. Whether it is a formal or an informal hedge, there are a myriad of plant choices to fit into any landscape design from the evergreen to the flowering and the small to the large shrub.
Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) is perhaps the first shrub one thinks of when considering a formal hedge. The boxwood hedge is an evergreen with a very dense growth habit. Boxwood will grow in the shade as well as full sun, which makes it a good choice for winding through any landscape. Set plants 1 - 1 1/2 feet apart for best hedge results and prune in mid to late fall.
Variegated Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens Elegantissima) is grown just as the Buxus sempervirens but offers the added coloring of variegated leaves. Both have tiny blooms in the early to mid spring which are not very conspicuous and therefore, not the reason for choosing this shrub. Boxwoods will live 200 or more years if given adequate care.
English Yew (Taxus baccata) is one type of conifer used to create mazes and borders in the formal English countryside and on castle grounds. English yew is a tough plant that will endure severe or frequent pruning.
Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata) has a mounding habit reaching about 4 feet tall and wide. Japanese holly can be grown in the coldest zones, down to USDA zone 2, but will also grow in the heat of zone 9. Prune Japanese holly carefully over time rather than cutting the shrub back all at once to prevent damage to the plant.
Catmint Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant' is a small evergreen shrub with silvery, grey-green leaves. Blooms are purple and appear in mid spring lasting until early fall. To create a low colorful blooming hedge, plant Catmint in well drained garden soil in an area that receives full sun for 6 or more hours per day. Catmint will reach 3 feet tall and should be planted between 1 - 1 1/2 feet apart.
Border Forsythia (Forsythia X intermedia) is a deciduous shrub that is covered with bright yellow blooms in the late winter-early spring even before the leaves appear. Border forsythia can be pruned into a hedge with little trouble and will reach heights of up to ten feet. Grow in well-drained soil in full sun to light shade. Set shrubs 4 feet apart for the best thickness and spring flower show.
Potentilla (Potentilla fruticosa) is a deciduous shrub with deep green leaves and bright yellow blooms that appear from mid spring to mid fall. Potentilla likes to grow in full sun but tolerates poor soil conditions in many areas. Set plants 1 1/2 feet apart for a nice display. This shrub also grows well in coastal areas.
The 'Bonica' rose makes a nice hedge and is easy to grow. It will reach 5 feet tall if left untrimmed. April brings pink blooms in USDA climate zones 4-9.
Rosa rugosa 'Roseraie de L'Hay' is a good choice for areas where a fast-growing hedge is needed. Large deep purple blooms cover the bush from summer until fall. Plant rose bushes one to one and one-half feet apart for thick fragrant flowering hedge.
Rosa rugosa 'Blanc Double de Coubert' is another good choice for a fast growing, fragrant, flowering hedge. Blooms are white and appear from early summer through fall. Set roses between 1-2 feet for best hedge results.