Garden hedges

Too many garden hedges have been planted with Leyllandii or Lawson Cypress, these are the soft leaved conifers that loom over gardens, that seem to be causing so much neighbourly acrimony and court cases, mainly because they grow so tall they block light to peoples gardens or even worse spoil the view that people are used to. When I have asked people why they planted them to a man they say "it's because it gives me an instant hedge" no one says "it's because I like them" but the trouble with conifer hedges are many -

  1. They always grow to quickly causing a lot of work.
  2. They are always striving to reach their eventual height of 100ft plus.
  3. Brown patches and dieback occur easily and will never re-grow spoiling the appearance forever.
  4. When grown as a tall hedge they quite often shade out their lower branches which causes the growth to be thin and the hedge to become leggy.
  5. Their roots are invasive causing dryness and soil mineral depletion near the hedge, which usually means that you cannot plant any decent borders near the hedge.
  6. The bigger the hedge the bigger and further the roots grow.
  7. They are very boring to look at.
  8. If you trim all the green of a branch the branch dies.
Alternatively you can grow a hedge that -
  1. Won't grow taller than your house.
  2. Won't get brown or dead patches.
  3. Will not deplete the minerals and goodness in your soil.
  4. Will not cause you excessive hard work.
  5. Will not upset your neighbours.
  6. Will not grow large roots to undermine the foundations of your house.
  7. You can trim to ground leval and it should regrow.
If you like flowers, Butterflies, Berries and Birds you can grow a hedge that will delight you, your neighbours and still grow it tall enough to give you privacy; but it takes a little longer to grow than a Leylandii hedge.
A hedge is for life so choose your plants carefully and it will give pleasure to you and many more people in the future.

Always grow a mixed hedge, this way you have variety and your hedge will be healthier. You can choose plants that never grow higher than waist height, head height or even small trees that will only grow at most to about 10-12ft it's all down to how and when you cut it in how you achieve the appearance you want. I would suggest getting a book on garden hedges (the local library usually has a good selection of books). Planting Ivy amongst your hedge fills out the bottom half and greatly encourages beneficial wildlife such as predator Beatles that help keep down Aphids and other unsightly pests. Fuschias can be grown into low hedges where they will give a spectacular show of flowers and edible berries (ideal if you have big trees with good side light). Another interesting favourite of mine is the Strawberry tree (arbutus unedo) grown as a hedge it becomes quite dense and develops marble sized red fruit which are edible, it's also evergreen and slow growing.

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