Selecting plants for hedges
Hedges started out as living fences defining the boundaries of rural properties and confining domestic animals. Today they are more likely to be seen helping to add style in urban gardens Formal hedges compliment the Renaissance, Federation and Tuscan style homes popular at the moment.
As well as being ornamental hedges have practical uses, as a substitute for walls or fences, offering protection from wind or forming visual barriers to create privacy. Their symmetry, order and neatness are appealing. They can be used to frame garden beds or edge pathways, and they focus our sight, separating one area of the garden from another.
Choose the right plant for the type of hedge you want. For a low hedge it's best to choose one which is slow growing. Murraya “Minamin” for a slow, low growing hedge can be planted three to a metre, and will take about a year to fuse together. For a more instant hedge, plant five to a metre. Miniature Gardenia, Gardenia 'Ocean Pearl', with their wonderfully scented white flowers, can be used as a substitute.
For a higher hedge, smaller growing Lilly Pilly such as Syzygium “Hinterland Gold” or “Aussie Southern” grows to 3m in full sun. In the shade “Mock orange”, Murraya paniculata, can be used and has perfumed white flowers. This plant is also good for full sun. General rule for planting is one every 50cm or one per metre depending on the growth habit. For a taller hedge to 6m plant Syzygium luehmannii and trim to shape.
Having planted, take the apparently drastic step of cutting back every plant by half! This pruning forces new growth from the base, making sure the hedge grows from ground level right to the top. If you miss this step your hedge could look like it's "on stilts". Plants don't grow as hedges naturally so need regular trimming to maintain their form and shape. To rejuvenate older hedges rigorous cutting-back is again in order.
These days electric hedge trimmers are quick and efficient. A chainsaw or a line trimmer with a saw-like attachment can be used. But if using this kind of gear, don't forget your safety wear. Other tools include garden shears; for heavier shoots use wavy-bladed shears. Electric hedge trimmers can be used as your skill increases to create cones, balls or other shapes.
Today's tools make growing hedges a creative pursuit instead of drudgery. Hedges can be used to make beautiful effects in modern gardens and can transform that precious space.
This is a guide for spacing when planting a double hedge.