Guides

Choosing evergreen hedging

Evergreen hedging is a great choice if you want year-round foliage cover, a tidy, formal look, or to screen something off.

Uses for evergreen hedging include:

  • marking a boundary
  • creating structure
  • adding winter interest
  • screening
  • as a barrier to air pollution and noise
  • knot gardens and mazes, for the adventurous!

We stock a range of evergreens that are suitable for these purposes. Some popular choices are listed below, but it's always worth browsing the aisles for ideas. Staff are always happy to advise what might be suitable for your site.

Fast growing

CHERRY LAUREL   Prunus laurocerasus

The fastest growing broadleaf hedging available, cherry laurel is a garden standard, useful for creating  a quick screen of lustrous mid-green foliage.

Pros: speedy growth and shade tolerance

Cons: It can be tricky to avoid slicing through the large leaves when using a hedge trimmer, but we don't find this too much of an issue

Cherry laurel
Cherry laurel

Alternatives:

Fastigiate cherry laurel (P. laurocerasus Genolia®) - an attractive upright form with narrower leaves

Portuguese laurel (Prunus lusitanica) - smaller, darker leaves and slower growth

(also see Leylandii below, under Conifers)

Conifers

LEYLANDII   X Cupressocyparis leylandii

A fast-growing conifer with a mixed reputation, leylandii grows quickly into a thick and dense hedge. Great if managed properly.

Pros: Copes with all soil types and grows very fast

Cons: Needs regular maintenance to keep it under control. If you cut into old growth, bare branches will remain on show.

Green leylandii
Green leylandii

Alternatives:

Golden leylandii (X C. leylandii 'Castlewellan Gold') - grows at a slightly slower rate

Thuja (various types, e.g. Western red cedar, T. plicata) - slower growing and some dwarf varieties

Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) - drought tolerant and ideal for coastal sites

Colourful

PHOTINIA 'RED ROBIN'   Photinia x fraseri 'Red Robin'

For a colourful evergreen, Photinia 'Red Robin' is hard to beat. Bright red leaves appear as new growth pushes through in spring and summer.

Pros: Easy to care for

Cons: Grows best in full sun and can take a few seasons to become dense

Photinia 'Red Robin'
Photinia 'Red Robin'

Alternatives:

Photinia robusta 'Compacta' - smaller leaves, denser

Spotted laurel (Aucuba japonica 'Variegata'/'Crotonifolia') - leaves brightly spotted with yellow, perfect for shade

Variegated forms of oleaster (Elaeagnus), Griselinia, holly (e.g. Ilex 'Golden King') and Euonymus (e.g. 'Aureomarginatus' and 'Bravo') are also usually available for a hedge that packs in some bright colour

Spiky

COMMON HOLLY   Ilex aquifolium

For a spiky evergreen hedge to deter intruders but attract wildlife, our native holly is a good choice.

Pros: A traditional, native evergreen, good for a countryside setting and Christmas wreaths. Colourful berries on female plants. Grows well in shade.

Cons: Can be tricky to establish as prefers good drainage; spiky to deal with

Common holly
Common holly

Alternatives:

Firethorn (Pyracantha) - colourful berries plus sharp spikes

Holly varieties (Ilex) - hollies with features such as abundant berries or variegation are also available, e.g. Van Tol holly

Formal styles and topiary

COMMON BOX   Buxus sempervirens

Box is a classic, slow-growing, dense-leaved shrub used for tightly clipped hedges and topiary.

Pros: Doesn't need clipping too often as slow-growing

Cons: Susceptible to box blight. Best suited to low growing hedges as takes a long time to grow tall.

Box
Box

Alternatives:

English yew (Taxus baccata) - another slow-growing classic with the added bonus of red fruits

Japanese holly (Ilex crenata) - very similar to box

Euonymus 'Green Rocket' - upright growth with small, serrated leaves

Exposed or coastal sites

OLEASTER   Elaeagnus x ebbingei

A tough plant with thick leaves that can take exposure to cold winds. Autumn to winter brings fragrant, though inconspicuous, flowers. Leaves have an interesting 'dusted' texture and silvery-grey undersides.

Pros: Grows at a decent rate to form a nice thick hedge, hardy in exposed sites. Variegated forms available.

Cons: Perhaps a bit common!

Oleaster
Oleaster

Alternatives

Japanese spindle (Euonymus japonicus) - glossy, serrated leaves, often used in seaside locations. Variegated forms available.

Griselinia littoralis - another seaside standard with smooth, apple-green leaves. Variegated form available.

Seasonal interest

BEECH   Fagus sylvatica

Not actually evergreen, but well-known for the copper-coloured leaves it holds onto in winter, bringing inviting warm tones at a bleak time of year.

Pros: Offers year-round coverage as well as seasonal interest

Cons: Prefers a well-drained soil, so can be tricky to establish (see hornbeam below)

Beech
Beech

Alternatives

Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) - similar to beech in that it holds its leaves in winter, though they are a darker colour. Copes well with wetter soils so can be easier to establish than beech.

Cotoneaster franchetii - a semi-evergreen whose silvery leaves sometimes take on a purple hue in autumn. Attractive winter berries.

Quick guide

What size and how many do I need?

Our evergreen hedging generally comes in sizes from 3 litre to 30L. Larger sizes may be available for some types.

We recommend planting at these densities:

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