What are you trying to achieve?
We are of the belief that, even though it sounds cliche, a hedge can add significant value to a property, especially a front boundary hedge. Still, it has to be done right and it has to look good.
You need to consider the following when deciding on a plant to use for your hedge. This will help put a line through those plants that you most probably can’t or won’t use because it’s not possible for them to do what you’re trying to achieve.
- Height – For a side or rear hedge or one beneath the windows of a house, this is easy. For the front boundary hedge, it’s less so. Unless you live on acreacge (or at least a very big block) or next to a main road or other concern that requires screening, the front hedge should provide additional street appeal. It’s for this reason that we don’t think the front hedge should be any higher than 1.5-1.7m. Higher than that and street appeal can be lost. Your house won’t be as welcoming. By the same token, a hedge less than 0.8-1m can look silly, especially if placed out the front of a 2-storey house.
- Width – This is less of a question of what you want and more a question of what can be achieved. You need to allow about a metre in width for your 1m+ high hedge, or it will look very “twiggy” at the sides.
Now consider the 3 “F’s”: Formality, Foliage and Flower
- Formality– Unless you have bucket-loads of time and a good Chiropractor, orcan afford a gardener to come once a week and do it for you, trying to get your hedge to look like the one on the right might be a tad tricky. Apart from that, a hedge that looks like “too much” work can be detrimental at sale time. A hedge clipped a few times a year still looks great and is fairly painless to achieve. A totally informal hedge involves the use of plants that can’t be clipped into a hedge eg. Agapanthus, or the use of hedge plants left to grow naturally rather than clipped. If you don’t have a green thumb, choose a plant that doesn’t require too much maintenance to keep it looking like a hedge.
- Flower– If staying less formal to get the flowers, make sure the flowers fit in withthe style of your house and garden. Also keep in mind how well a flower ages. Gardenias are beautiful for a few days before browning off (a dead heading nightmare to keep it looking good), while Camellia Sasanqua varieties (right) create a raking nightmare as they drop their petals. If you’re going to clip your hedge you’re going to sacrifice some flowering, so don’t let this be a major deal breaker.
- Foliage – This is probably more important than Flowering because there are two aspects: new
growth colour and leaf size. As with flowering it’s important the colour is in keeping with the house and the rest of the garden. Leaf size is extremely important. A small leafed plant in a 1.5m hedge will give a “tighter” look than a large leaf plant. The larger leaf may have a more gappy or twiggy look than the small leaf. They don’t market it as a “small leafed Lilly Pilly” for nothing! The less height in your hedge the smaller you want the leaf to keep it looking tight, even if only clipped a few times a year.