10 Best Hedging Plants

By Andy McIndoe

Ten Best Plants For Hedging

When is the best time to plant a hedge? As long as you are planting container grown plants, the simple answer is whenever you have the time to do it.

Plant in autumn and the ground is warm and moist; your new hedging plants have all winter to get established. Plant in early spring and your new hedge is on the brink of the growing season. The chances are the garden will be higher on your agenda in spring, so you are more likely to think about doing it. Plant in summer and you will probably have to water daily, so plant early or late in the year if you can.

Evergreen hedging subjects are mostly sold and planted as pot grown plants. Whether you plant large or small just remember the plants will grow: you don’t need to plant more just because you are planting small. Some on-line hedging retailers can be a little misleading when it comes to this information. If you think about it, the closer together the plants are the more they compete. Shrubs in competition tend to be drawn up, rather than branching out and developing a bushy habit. This can mean a hedge that is bare at the base.

Deciduous hedging plants are often sold bare root, in other words lifted from the field in a dormant state. They can only be transplanted from late autumn through to early spring. This often gives better results than planting containerised or container grown stock of these subjects. There is a great variety of hedging plants to choose from. So a hedge should never be considered as a boring, utility aspect of the garden.

To help you choose I thought I would pick ten of the best hedging plants, tell you why I’ve chosen them, and then tell you how far apart to plant them.

Carpinus betulus


Hornbeam is very similar to Fagus sylvatica, beech in appearance. The bright green leaves turn brown and mostly remains on the twigs in winter.

Bushy and well branched, it likes heavy soil and tolerates damp conditions, whereas beech likes it dry and alkaline.

Plant bare root in winter in a double row. Plants 60cm (2ft) apart, in rows 45cm (18”) apart. This means that the individual plants in the staggered rows are really around 45cm (18”) apart.

Griselinia littoralis

Griselinia littoralis

Is a bright evergreen with rounded, leathery leaves on yellow-green ascending stems. It grows quickly and makes a dense hedge.

Griselinia does not like severe cold or alkaline soil but it is excellent for coastal gardens and is wind tolerant. Plant 60-90cm apart (2-3ft)

Thuja plicata

Thuja plicata

Western Red Cedar is an aromatic conifer with sprays of emerald green, shining foliage. It is a far better choice than x Cupressocyparis leylandii and makes an altogether more handsome hedge. It is ideal as a tall screening hedge. Plant 90cm (3ft) apart.

Olearia x haastii

Olearia haastii

One of the hardiest of these evergreen daisy bushes this is really underused as a hedging plant.

Small, leathery olive-green leaves on greyish twigs and masses of white daisy flowers in summer it makes an excellent low hedge. Ideal for coastal gardens and windy, exposed sites. Plant 60cm (2ft) apart.

Crataegus monogyna

Crataegus monogyna  (2)

Hawthorn is one of the toughest hedging plants and suits rural situations. If clipped from an early age it makes a dense, thorny, impenetrable barrier. Dark green leaves, white flowers in spring dark red fruits in autumn. Very wildlife friendly. Plant as bare-root transplants in late autumn to early spring. 60 cm (2ft) apart in a double row (as hornbeam)

Taxus baccata

Taxus baccata

English Yew is a lot faster growing than many imagine, and as a hedging plant it takes some beating.

Very dark green foliage that makes a dense, dramatic hedge and wonderful backdrop for planting. It can be used to create large screens, or trimmed to keep it low and formal.

Yew grows well on most well-drained soils and loves alkaline conditions. Plant 90cm (3ft) apart

Acer campestre

Acer campestre

Field Maple naturally grows to form a spreading tree,however it makes a lovely hedge with lobed leaves that turn rich, butter-yellow in fall.

It is ideal in rural situations and if pruned from an early age it makes a dense, bushy barrier. Plant as for hornbeam.

Euonymus japonicus ‘Green Spire’

Euonymus japonicus 'Green Spire' 1

Is an upright evergreen with shining, emerald green leaves and a narrow, compact habit. It is ideal for small gardens and narrow borders where a low hedge is required up to 120cm (4ft) in height.

As an alternative to Box (Buxus sempervirens), it is ideal in town and coastal gardens and is very shade tolerant. Plant 60 cm (2ft) apart.

Prunus lusitanica

Prunus lusitanica 'Angustifolia

Portuguese Laurel is an easier evergreen hedge to manage than cherry laurel because of its smaller leaves and dense habit. It is good in shade and has attractive foliage: dark green leaves with red leaf stalks. Plant 90cm apart.

Viburnum tinus ‘Spirit’

Viburnum tinus 'Spirit'

Is a compact form of laurustinus makes a lovely loose hedge with a long flowering season through winter and early spring. It is good in shade and overhanging trees and suits both town and country situations. Plant 75cm (30”) apart.

Whatever you plant, good soil preparation is paramount. Add plenty of garden compost or a shrub and tree planting compost and a slow release fertiliser. Water well after planting (and before in the case of container grown stock). Regular watering during the first growing season is essential.

Andy McIndoe

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