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Whether you’re looking to create a privacy enclosure, windbreak, or wildlife deterrent, or simply bring some traditional appeal to your outdoor space, hedgerows are a versatile, beautiful addition to any garden. Although commonly used in reference to any type of hedgerow, “privets” are actually a specific type of plant; members of the genus Ligustrum that includes about 40-50 species of evergreen, semi-evergreen, and deciduous shrubs and small trees. While actual privets do the job beautifully, hedgerows can be created from a variety of plants, offering an option to fit any purpose and style.
Due to the large array available, choosing which plant to use in your hedgerow might seem daunting at first. Your goal, however, should help you determine the best plant for the job. Here are a few to consider, depending on your aims. You don’t have to choose just one; alternating two or more types of plants can create a pleasing display of color and texture.
Tallhedge, privet, boxwood, and arborvitae work well for creating a living visual shield. These types, which can be made to look “wall-like” offer traditional, European appeal. Privet, in particular, is very hearty and can grow in most types of soil. It retains its foliage almost all winter long.
Though technically trees, hybrid willows and poplars are both excellent windbreakers. Depending on how you prune them, they can appear as more of a shrub than a tree. Leave the lower limbs on for more privacy.
Anything with thorns or prickles will help deter grazers, such as deer, from your property. Hedge roses, holly, and blackthorn are all effective, and beautiful, choices.
Rose of Sharon, azalea, spirea, forsythia, and lilac are all suitable as hedgerows with the added benefits of beautiful blooms come spring.
Buy hedging plants either in soil, or bare root. If purchased in soil, the plant can be put in the ground either in the fall or the spring. Dormant (bare root) plants must be planted in spring.
First, measure and stretch a line of twine or rope to make sure you’re planting in a straight “row.” Dig a trench, and set the plants in it. For a privet hedge, aim for a foot-deep trench with about a foot between plants. Pay attention to what you are planting: some bushes will have different root depths or may need more spacing in between. You should be able to tell how deep to plant by looking at the stem poles of your plants.
Related: How To: Plant a Bush
Once you’ve got them in the ground, spread the roots out and distribute the soil over them, making sure not to pack the soil too hard. Soak the roots with water. It is a good idea to prune your hedges severely at planting time to stimulate growth if they have been dormant. Doing so will give you denser growth, too.
Before you begin work on your hedgerow, make sure to research the particular plant you choose to use, as every variety requires different care and pruning. If you give your hedgerow the water, fertilizer, and pruning it needs, it will reward you with years of beauty and elegance.
For more on trees and bushes, consider: