Whats the best way to plant and maintain a hedge or a living screen?

So you want to screen out your neighbours, cut out the traffic noise or enclose an outdoor area. You could build a fence 2 metres high, but how sterile is that? You are much better to plant a hedge or screen of native or exotic plants to filter and cool the air, produce flowers, attract birds and create a lovely outdoor room.

Why Plant A Hedge?

Firstly hedges are cheaper and far more vandal proof than standard fences. Hedges are planted for a number of reasons; the most common is for privacy. A good hedge can also be used within the garden to create the illusion of different spaces or rooms in your outdoor areas. Remember not all hedges have to be 2m high. It is very easy to use smaller, lower hedges to edge paths and garden beds. Hedges add another living element to your garden and home, they are a thing of beauty. The act of trimming plants to formally create a hedge is a very ancient gardening practice. A good hedge adds value and character to your property, and best of all hedges are not that hard to grow.

Plant Suggestions For Your Next Hedge Or Screen :
 

Low Growing Border Hedges Under 1m :
Buxus sempervivrens
Buxus suffruticosa
Coprosma species
Corokia cotoneaster
Ligustrum rotundifolium

Medium Height Hedges 1 – 2m :
Camellia 'Setsugekka'
Corokia bronze king and frosted chocolate
Laurus nobilis
Michelia gracipes

Large Growing Boundry Hedges 2m+:
Griselinia Broadway Mint
Griselinia littoralis 'Whenuapai'
Pittosporum Stephens Island
Pittosporum t. 'Wrinkled Blue'

Fruiting Hedges And Screens :
Feijoa spp
Lemon meyer
Myrtus ugni
Olea spp
 
The most important thing to remember when planting hedges is to use the same variety or cultivar for the complete hedge to avoid your new hedge looking like a bag of licorice all sorts.
 

What Spacing Do I Need To Plant My Plants At?

The initial spacing will depend on the size of the plant you purchase and how dense you require the hedge to be.  The general rule of thumb we work by is this, plant spacing should be half the desired height of the final hedge ( please note this does depend on the plant variety and the initial size of the plant you are using)
 
i.e. if you require a hedge of 2m high the plant spacing would be 1m between the stems (centres)
 

Planting:

Water your plants before you plant them. If the mix is too dry it may fall away and damage the roots. Root damage at the time of planting is a very common cause of plant death. For this reason, you should NOT tease out the roots when you are planting, since this does more harm than good.
 
Prepare your ground (see information sheet how to prepare your soil for planting)
 
Remember to add plenty of nutrient such as Texture Plants 12 month planting food as hedges are very hungry. Dig either individual holes or a large trench, this will depend on the spacing and the size of the initial plants.
 
Watering Your New Hedge :
 
What you MUST do when you plant is water-in each plant with about a bucketful of water, as soon as possible after planting. You should plant a few plants, then water them in. DON’T plant the lot, have cup of tea, and then water them in. Even if it’s raining you must still do this. The reason for this watering-in is to settle the soil around the root-ball of the plant. If there is complete contact with the potting mix, moisture from the soil will easily transfer to the roots of the plant.
 
As a hedge is a dense planting, the plants in it will use food and water faster than if they were individuals. So keep an eye on the soil moisture levels during hot months. The best way to water a hedge is with a soaker hose as this puts a small amount of water on slowly so the plants get good deep water. Follow our guide lines from “when and how to water”. Once your hedge is planted and watered in Lightly prune the sides and the top of your new hedge this will encourage a nice vigorous bushy hedge straight away.
 

Maintaining A Healthy Hedge:

To keep your hedge looking dense and full requires a little work, but there are not too many things more satisfying than having a great looking hedge on your property. These jobs include regular feeding, we recommend Texture Plants 12 month planting food, and regular trimming. The amount of trimming required depends on the species you have selected, generally once to twice a year will be fine.
 
Pruning:
 
Regular pruning will encourage a nice bushy dense hedge and reduce the amount of renovation work required. Use garden lines tightly stretched between stakes as a template.  Ensure the hedge tapers slightly towards the top, so that optimum light reaches the lower parts of the hedge.