Choosing plants for a hedge can be made easier by giving some thought to the following:
- Decide on the type of hedge e.g. evergreen, deciduous, flowering, formal or informal
- Identify any specific requirements, such as height to be achieved and maintained
- Take into account the soil conditions and situation. Choose plants that tolerate such sites
- Check which hedges grow locally in similar situations and soil conditions
- Consider the amount of annual maintenance it will need once established. The timing and frequency of pruning depends on the species and the general effect required
- Native informal or semi-formal hedges will help attract wildlife, providing shelter and food
Evergreen or deciduous?
Evergreens make fine hedges and obviously the bonus is having shelter or privacy all year round. However, they do tend to take more maintenance and need to be pruned annually, ideally twice a year. Conifers are popular evergreen choices, but need to be pruned regularly as (with the exception of yew) neglected or overgrown conifer hedges cannot be restored.
Deciduous plants also make fine hedges, and indeed a beech hedge over winter holding onto its brown leaves is very pretty. You won't get the same privacy with a deciduous hedge as you do with an evergreen. An advantage of a deciduous hedge is that it will filter wind in winter avoiding the damaging turbulence associated with dense evergreen hedges. They are more forgiving with pruning, and although they should be trimmed in late summer, if you miss a year or two they will respond well to renovation.