Narrow Down your choices
Hedges are used in the garden mainly to form a backdrop, hide a fence or be the fence, and are a great way to add borders. So which plant to use and how many will you need you ask? Well, it depends on how you want your hedge to behave. Are you looking for a tidy hedge that is tightly knit, for a formal garden, with not a leaf out of place? or are you wanting to create a large wall for screening purposes? Do you want flowers? fragrance? There’s a heap of plants that you could use. Let us narrow down your choices. Here’s what we grow in the nursery.
Hedges to up to 1m
Formal and neat
- Japanese Box – Lovely light green, oval shaped foliage. Ties in with many landscape styles.
- African Box – Quick to grow with small, tight knit foliage. Perfect to use for topiary shapes – you can clip into a swan or an elephant or whatever your creative self wishes.
- English Box– Very robust, deep emerald green colour. Tolerates many soil types. Likes full sun and can grow in the shade. Good to use if you want a hedge that is both in the sun and shade.
- Port Wine Magnolia – this shrub can grow 2-3m tall, but can be kept at around 1m quite nicely as it’s not the fastest of growers. Regular pruning encourages a dense habit and more flowers. The flowers produce the most divine scent, especially after a warm day. They flower mid stem not on terminals so you can cut and trim away without removing the beautifully fragrant bud like flowers
You’ll want to keep the flowers on these, so no need to clip so often
- Gardenia Florida – grows to 1mx1m. Looks great planted in front of a larger, clipped hedge. Rarely needs pruning. Sweet smelling flowers bloom from spring to late autumn and even into winter
- Gardenia Grandiflora Star – No pruning needed, this little shrub only grows to 50cm x50cm. Lovely fragrant flowers from spring to late autumn.
Or use climbers as a hedge – a bit more clipping to keep it in shape, but you’ll get a low hedge quite quickly.
- Chinese Star Jasmine – let this grow rambling on the ground and then clip it into shape to create boundaries. This looks fantastic planted under pleached trees, neatly trimmed into shape. Or plant it in front of a higher hedge. Fragrant white star shaped flowers in spring and autumn.
- Hibbertia scandens – native to the Southwest, this will normally climb, but can be clipped into a low growing hedge for borders.
Not So Formal
- Agonis flexuosa nana– this has been around forever with good reason. Loved by landscapers all around the southwest and Perth, this plant is tough and looks good. Used as a backdrop for many styles of gardens. Can grow around 1m – 1.2m
- Nandina Dwarf – lovely leafy little shrub. Keeps its shape nicely without any need for pruning. Wonderful colour in the foliage year round with lots of variation in colour. Greens, oranges, yellows and reds. Reddens up more in Winter time
Larger Screen style hedges 1.5m+
Formal and Neat
- Syzygium Bush Christmas ( Lilly Pilly) Grows 4m+ and can be used to create a larger formal hedge. Quick growing with dense foliage. Little birdies love to hide and nest in the foliage. Red new growth precedes little purple fruits (edible) in Winter time, followed by sweet summer flowers. Read below on how to choose a Lilly Pilly
- Viburnum Tinus– Classic shrub. You can’t go wrong with this. Bright white flowers in winter time. Classic hedging plant that is tough as old boots. Pick this one if you want your hedge to grow in the shade as well as the sun.
- Viburnum Emerald Lustre or Viburnum Emerald Jewel – Quick growing and quite vigorous, both of these are very tolerant of many soil conditions. They like full sun with some shade. Emerald lustre has big glossy leaves while the Emerald Jewel has smaller, greener foliage. Both have a cluster of fragrant flowers in Spring time. These are a good choice for those narrower sections down a fence line.
- Murraya paniculata can grow to around 3m. Highly fragrant blossoms in the warmer months smell like citrus blossom. Attracts bees and butterflies. Nice looking shrub with lighter green foliage that’s been around for a long time. Makes a really lovely garden background.
- Port Wine Magnolia – including this in with the larger shrubs as it can grow 2m+
- Westringea – Tried and True, this Aussie native plant will grow just about anywhere. See it used in coastal plantings and you’ll see why it’s chosen. Small, dense foliage with tiny flowers, there’s a few varieties available. Try Lilac and Lace for a shrub that grows around 1.5m x 1.5m – or Wynyabbie Gem, also growing to 1.5m
Not so formal
Casual and carefree, but does the job of a quick growing hedge or screen
- Photinia robusta – Quick growing. Red foliage. Big white flowers late winter through to spring. Can grow to around 5m
- Hibiscus – Try Hibiscus cottonwood – you’ll probably see this grown everywhere. Especially in recent developed suburbs. Has pleasing colours, interesting heart shaped foliage, with yellow flowers throughout the year. And it grows very quickly. Can be grown on the coast and tolerates salty winds and still looks good. Good for a quick growing screen. There’s also Hawaiian Hibiscus varieties – Considered by some to be an old fashioned sort of plant. But if you’ve got an area that needs to be screened now, these can do the job in no time. Best grown in full sun, but will grow nicely in shady spots too, these are really tough plants that can look spectacular if given the right treatment. Feed them up in the warmer months and watch them bloom year round.
- Callistemon Kings Park Special – this one’s a no brainer if you want a native screening plant. It’s quick growing, not fussy on soil type. Can tolerate boggy areas, but also will grow in sandy soil. Attracts birds and bees and is quite quick to grow. Waterwise once established.
- Grevillea Robyn Gordon – and associated cultivars like Grevillea Superb , Grevillea Ned Kelly , Grevillea loopy lou, Grevillea Coconut Ice are quick growing and non fussy if left to grow and do their own thing. They’ll reward you with flowers most of the year and you’ll have birds and bees visiting your place in no time. They’ll respond to pruning once a year, which will make your hedge more attractive. Fertilise using native fertiliser
How many plants will you need?
What kind of hedge do you want? For a formal, clipped hedge with no gaps at the bottom, space close together. We generally go by the rule of planting 1 third spacing depending on the height you want to achieve.
Example – you want a hedge to grow to 1m, then space your plants around 30cm apart. You’re hedge will knit together quicker than plants spaced out further.
It does depend on the shrub you choose and which size plant you initially choose and of course, your budget. So if you want a hedge that runs 10m at a height of 1metre, you'll want about 30 plants.
It’s not uncommon to get a phone call asking for replacement plants. You may want to consider getting a few extra to plant in other areas or in pots if you need to replace a for a hedge, where the customer has lost one or two.
So you like the look of Syzygiums (Lilly Pillies) How to choose a Lilly Pilly plant
A word of advice
It’s quite common for us to get a panicked phone call asking for replacement Syzygiums of a certain variety. There’s a tonne of varieties out there with bright shiny labels promising to be redder, or bushier, or have a quicker growth habit, or are psyllid resistant. Sounds great. These are great plants. Customer buys their hedge. And after a year, customer notices they need to replace one or two. Or they want to extend their hedge. So they start ringing around, starting with the first place of purchase. No luck. That variety isn’t available, there’s a new variety in stock though…gah! Why isn’t the plant available any more?
You see, plants, just like other shiny, products need to be redeveloped, repackaged and marketed to keep consumers interested. This results in newer, plant varieties along with shiny labels presented mainly at big box stores. Growers grow them for a season, and move on to the next ‘better’ plant next year. Result? That Lilly Pilly plant is not available any more.
This is one reason why we stick to one type of Lilly Pilly – Syzygium Bush Christmas. Why? It’s a great plant. It’s handsome, reddens up beautifully in Winter, and also grows quickly. Because it’s been around for a long time, it’s easy to get anywhere. We grow it every year. If we don’t have it, someone else most likely will. No need to worry.
Here’s another thing to consider when choosing your hedging plant
If you’re looking at variegated plants or interesting foliage plants that ‘twist’ have an interesting leaf as they grow, you may want to reconsider if you’re wanting to achieve a uniform look. It all depends on how fussy you want to be though. You see, plants, through selective breeding can be developed to have a certain appearance and your variegated plants can revert back to being green. Not all, but maybe one in your hedge, or part of the plant. Or from that interesting twisted foliage to a normal leaf growth pattern.
It may not worry you, if you’re happy to let plants do their thing but just bear in mind that what you’re buying today, may change further down the track.
Now You’ve chosen. How to Plant Your Hedge.
Not going to bore you too much with how to plant, (too late??) here’s a few key points
- Dig a trench and fill with soil amendments – clay, rockdust and compost . You’ll want nice nutrient rich soil for all those shrubs, planted close together competing for nutrients. Your hedge will grow quicker and look green and lush.
- Don’t trust your eyes. Use a string line to get plants in a straight line.
- It’s painful to do, but clip plants immediately after planting to promote bushy lateral growth.
- Clip in an slight A-line pattern so plants get more light and therefore more uniform growth.
- Use a string line to cut height once established.