October is a great time of year to plant new hedges so they can take advantage of that extra water to get a foothold before next year.
Whether it’s for privacy, aesthetic interest or as a windbreak, hedging is a great garden solution if you choose the right variety. Even if you’ve already got fencing in place, adding hedging plants can soften those stark panels and you can grow to whatever height you like.
Here are eight varieties that make excellent hedging plants.
Pros: This is one of the most commonly used hedging plants in the UK. It’s cheap to buy and grows very fast in pretty much any soil, so if you need a simple hedging solution that produces fast results, this could be your candidate. It’s also possible to trim it into attractive topiary shapes.
Cons: Because leylandii are evergreen and very vigorous, they remove minerals from the soil fast and can turn soil sandy in the surrounding area. This may make it difficult to grow other plants near the hedge. Leylandii also needs cutting back at least three times a year to keep it under control. If you don’t do this the hedge will form areas of dry, dead wood underneath the greenery and when you do come to cut back this will leave ugly bare patches that are hard to recover.
Pros: Laurel hedging is another popular choice; its large green leaves are pretty to look at, it’s good value for money and easy to maintain. And unlike leylandii, because laurel is not invasive, you can plant around it with no problems. If the area you are planting is in semi-shade and the soil is free-draining, laurel will establish well. As a bonus, it attracts bees and provides a habitat for other wildlife.
Cons: Laurel can take five or six years to get established, depending on the soil type and situation. It’s particularly tricky to grow in chalk or clay soil.
Pros: This UK native makes a beautiful hedge if you have a little patience. It provides year-round interest as the leaves change from green to an array of reds, yellow and browns, and the autumn leaves will stay on the hedge throughout winter if you trim in August. Beech hedging is also ideal for creating natural archways.
Cons: Beech grows relatively slowly and does need some patience to get the hedge established, with regular pruning for the first couple of years to encourage dense growth.
Pros: This Italian native is a popular hedging and topiary plant, often seen in ornamental gardens. It requires seasonal trimming in the right conditions – if it’s too hot, trimmed foliage may turn yellow. Give it a feed a couple of times a year to keep green.
Cons: Buxus is expensive to buy and so may not be the best solution if you’re planting a long hedge. It’s also slow growing and needs careful maintenance.
Pros: Red Robin is perhaps the most visually interesting of the shrubs profiled here; it’s an evergreen that produces an array of colour throughout the year, from glossy green leaves to white flowers and red shoots.
Cons: Red Robin is ideal if you want a hedge to hide a fence, but it’s not a very bushy so may not provide thick enough cover if grown alone.
Pros: This lovely and ever popular evergreen requires minimum maintenance and is very hardy. With its small, dense leaves it’s also ideal for training and trimming into topiary shapes. It makes a good habitat for wildlife if left to establish as a thick hedge.
Cons: Privet is quite slow growing so may not be the right solution if you want a quick fix.
Pros: Forsythia is a dramatic and attractive focal point when in blossom, its bright yellow blooms a sure sign of spring. After the blossom fades in mid-April, the leaves remain a lovely deep green colour until mid October.
Cons: Forsythia needs to be planted in free-draining, fertile soil and doesn’t do well in sandy or clay soil, so you need to check your garden is suitable.
Pros: This is the classic English hedge, an old species commonly used in the traditional ornamental gardens of manor houses, country cottages and churchyards. It can be shaped for a rounded or square hedge or into topiary shapes. Yew tends to do well in free-draining, sandy soil and needs to be maintained regularly as once it’s established it grows fast.
Cons: The leaves, bark and seeds of the yew are poisonous, so caution is advised with young children.