Whether short or tall, formal or informal, free form or clipped, hedges look more attractive with plants in front of them. The plants add depth and interest to what otherwise would be a plain row of tall bushes. Hedges direct a pathway, lead to a focal point, provide privacy, or hide a fence. Finish your hedge with a border of flowers or other plants. It's not difficult if you plan ahead and work carefully. When finished, your hedge will look as if it was professionally landscaped.
Design the bed in front of the edge to match the style of the hedge. If the style is formal and clipped the bed should be straight lined or symmetrically curved. If the hedge is free form the bed can be curved and undulating. The bedding should be at least 3 feet wide to give room for the plants to grow. Use the hose to trace the desired shape, or the flour, if the bed is longer than the hose. Put the flour in a Ziploc bag. Snip off one end so the flour flows from the bag and leaves a white mark on the ground.
Prepare the bedding. Dig out the bed following the outline of the hose or flour. Don't dig within 12 inches of the hedge. That will protect the roots of the hedge from being damaged. Remove any grass or sod. Place the sod root side up in another bed or garden area. This will kill the grass and the sod can be re used as mulch. Add peat moss, organic materials, compost and fertilizer to improve and enrich the soil. The soil has to now provide nutrients to both the established hedge and the new plants. Turn over the soil again to work in the soil amendments. Remove any rocks as you go. Rake smooth.
Select plants that compliment or contrast with the hedge. Choose plants that have subsequent flowering seasons such as daffodils for early spring, tulips for late spring, zinnias and cosmos for summer, chrysanthemums and asters for fall. If all green non flowering plants are your choice, select plants that have contrasting leaf shapes and colors to the hedge.
Stagger the plants rather than planting in a straight row like little soldiers. Place taller growing plants directly in front of the hedge about 12 inches away, then medium height plants, and finally border plants like sweet alyssum at the front of the new bed. The tall plants won't block the sunlight for the shorter plants.
Water the bed well and keep it moist until the new plants are well established and all the seedlings have sprouted.
Finish the bed with a covering of mulch to look nice and conserve moisture. The bed may also be edged with fencing, a mowing strip, bricks, or a stone border.