The only real alternative to a hedge is a fence. There are many materials that can be used to build a fence and they can range in price dramatically, from around $50 per metre to over $1,000. Different species of plants don’t generally have such a variable price range – there’s no equivalent hardwood paling fence to rendered brick and steel comparison in the plant world.
Where there is a major difference is in the size of the plant. More importantly, the size of the pot in which the plant is sold. Everything from tube stock for around a couple of bucks each up to hundreds of dollars each for advanced stock already resembling a hedge are available.
For the sake of this exercise, let’s assume you’re going to use the most common pot size sold at your local nursery, the 200mm pot. It’s not the size of a hedge yet, but it’s certainly more than a twig in a tube.
Based on that, our pluses of a hedge over a fence are:
- It’s cheaper
- It’s easier to DIY
- It generally looks, smells, and feels better, although this is highly subjective!
- It can change with the season
- Weather resistance
- Will usually outlive a fence
- Wildlife attracting
The pluses of a fence over a hedge are:
- Less maintenance (although hedge maintenance is usually cheaper than most fence maintenance)
- A fence can be impenetrable. A hedge can only get close.
- Takes up less physical space
- Has an instant effect
Obviously we’re biased and we accept that there are sometimes reasons why a fence is actually necessary. There is a move in landscaping to “soften” fences by planting a hedge along a fence line. Fences and hedges are not mutually exclusive.