Planting a hedge is a wonderful way to add privacy and lush greenery to your landscape. Using hedges has been a favorite technique of landscape designers for hundreds of years, and it is still going strong today.
By definition, a hedge is a closely-planted border or boundary of trees or shrubs. Usually the row is then pruned repeatedly over time to create a uniform wall of green. You could begin with many individual plants that are then carefully spaced and planted, or you could start with a pre-finished hedge like those available from InstantHedge. Either way, hedging plants are made up of many individual plants growing side-by-side.
The last thing you want is a finicky hedge that needs constant attention to thrive. I once was told a true story by a woman who had been trying to baby along a Photinia hedge that had been infected with a fungal problem common to this type of hedge. She had been treating the plants every other week by applying a chemical to both sides of each leaf with a cotton ball. What a pain!
When looking to plant a new hedge, you should choose a low-maintenance shrub or tree. This way, you can enjoy your hedge for years to come without needing to fuss over it.
Here are some excellent low-maintenance hedges to consider:
Green Mountain Boxwood
Boxwoods (Buxus) in general are quite low-maintenance shrubs, but Green Mountain is a tough-as-nails variety that is extremely easy to grow. It is resistant to both deer and rabbits, and has basically no disease issues. It is even one of the top 10 most naturally resistant boxwood varieties to Boxwood Blight! It grows in full sun to nearly full shade. It has a moderate growth rate, so one pruning per year is plenty to maintain its shape and size.
Yew (Taxus) trees can sometimes get a bad reputation for growing very fast and taking over. This hybrid variety is easy to maintain as it grows primarily straight upright. It is healthy and vigorous, with no major disease issues. It can tolerate full sun and full shade, making it a great choice for planting sites with mixed light levels. It tolerates dry and poor soils, but avoid planting in overly wet areas. It has a moderate growth rate, and grows mostly upright, so you only need to prune once per year.
Emerald Green Arborvitae
Another misunderstood hedge, Emerald Green Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’) is popular for a reason. Some people have become embittered toward it simply because they see it everywhere, but it truly is a beautiful, low-maintenance hedge. It is hardy to USDA Zone 3 and holds up very well in snow and ice, maintaining its rich green color all year long. It has no serious disease issues. It grows slowly into a tall pillar, requiring very little pruning either lightly once per year or every 2 years.
European Beech (Fagus sylvatica) is a wonderfully low-maintenance tree that has been a popular hedge for centuries. In fact, the largest hedge in the world is a beech hedge in Scotland that was planted in 1745! While few of us plan to grow a hedge for over 250 years, this demonstrates how easy it is to grow beech as a hedge. They have no serious disease issues and grow well in full sun to nearly full shade. They are tolerant of poor soils and urban conditions. It is best to prune them in the winter when they are dormant, and they only need to be pruned once per year.
Green Giant Arborvitae
For those needing a large hedge quickly, Green Giant Arborvitae (Thuja x) is a wonderful choice. It has incredible disease-resistance and is always vigorous and healthy. It even has some deer resistance, which is unusual among Arborvitae in general. It tolerates summer heat and humidity and is hardy to USDA Zone 5. It does grow quickly, so you would want to prune at least once per year, maybe twice depending on the size you want to maintain. However, for a fast-growing yet low-maintenance hedge you can’t do better than Green Giant.