Hedge plants - Japanese Skimmia, Common Boxwood, Privet, etc.

What are the best hedge plants for your garden?

Hedges are a part of almost every garden owner's green empire - whether as borders for flower beds, garden boundaries, or tall privacy screens, for example, for the terrace. Each person has their own ideas about the ideal hedge plant. In addition to visual criteria, the soil and site conditions must be taken into consideration for the selection.

Criteria for selecting hedge plants

The good news is that there are so many types and varieties of hedge plants that there is definitely something for every taste and every garden. But it is not enough to simply look for the bush or shrub that immediately appeals to you. It is helpful to clarify the following questions beforehand:

What purpose should my hedge fulfil?

Should it provide a dense privacy screen, enclose a flower bed, or serve as a backdrop for the garden? Is the purpose purely practical (e.g. as a property boundary), or should my hedge also enhance the enjoyment of the garden, for example as a colorful or flowering accent?

How tall and wide should my hedge be?

In what time frame should my hedge plants reach the desired size?
Do I have time, or do I desire quick results? How often in a year do I want to prune the hedge at most?
Do I need particularly easily pruned and therefore uncomplicated plants?
Or would I also be willing to invest more effort in more elaborate plant care?

Are evergreen or deciduous hedge plants more appealing to me?

Do I prefer species with leaves (e.g. European beech, red-tipped photinia) or those with needles (e.g. yew)?

Are there additional benefits that are important to me, such as the hedge plant serving as bird protection, bee food, winter decoration, or fragrant plant?

What exactly does the planned location in my garden look like?

What are the soil, light, and wind conditions?

And last but not least: Are there regularly children or animals in my garden that should not come into contact with toxic hedge plant components (e.g. berries)?

Devils Dream, Ausschnitt einer hohen Hecke mit roten Blättern

Photinia hedge: evergreen privacy screen and colorful eye-catcher in one

Red-leaved Photinia (Photinia fraseri) hedges are highly popular for their beautiful color. For those looking for something different than a "green wall" in their garden, the Photinia is an extremely appealing option. Among the many varieties, Devil's Dream® stands out. This cultivar offers an even more intense and long-lasting display of fiery red foliage compared to other Photinias. In addition, Devil's Dream® showcases its superiority as a hedge plant with its upright growth habit, while remaining compact and densely branched. It quickly forms a reliable privacy screen.

Devil's Dream® earned its name due to the striking color of its young shoots, which grow to about 20 to 50 cm in length in spring. The fiery crimson red is truly "devilishly beautiful" and brings bright color accents to even flower-deprived gardens. It blends harmoniously with its surroundings and does not appear overwhelming - an effect that some variegated Photinia varieties may unfortunately have.

Devils Dream, Hecke im Garten in L-Form mit roten Blättern

Tip: Devil's Dream® can be more than just a "hedge"

Devil's Dream® is the ideal Photinia for attractive privacy and decorative hedges. But its talents are not limited to that. It also impresses as a loosely-growing background shrub, as a trimmed or freely-growing specimen, and even in containers - for example, as a standard tree. If pruning doesn't remove the flower buds, beautiful umbels of small, white, lightly scented blossoms, reminiscent of hawthorn, will appear in May, providing a food source for insects. In autumn, birds delight in the pretty berries of the Photinia. If they don't completely strip the branches, these berries can also be used as long-lasting winter decorations in a vase.

Photinia hedges love loose, well-drained, nutrient-rich, moderately dry soils and can tolerate sun to partial shade.

Plant a Devil's Dream® hedge for evergreen privacy, ornamental purposes, as a food source for bees, and for winter decoration. Offer a feeding source for birds.

Devils Dream, Hecke im Garten mit roten Blättern

How does the red coloration of the Photinia occur?

Let's focus again on the beautiful red foliage of the Photinia fraseri. Depending on the variety, the color can remain different lengths and have various shades. Devil's Dream® stands out with its extremely long-lasting, vibrant red color display, which brings joy to garden owners well into autumn. Just before winter, the leaves turn green. Photinias retain their foliage all year round. The background of this color change is a trick of the plant: the young shoots are delicate and vulnerable in spring, so the spring sun could harm them and cause them to burn.

That is why the new leaves store carotenoids. These red pigments act similarly to sunscreen for us humans: they intercept the sunlight and protect the green chlorophyll in the leaves from damage. In autumn, when the leaves are mature and strong, this protection is no longer necessary, and the foliage becomes rich green.

This explains why Photinias in shade do not exhibit such strong coloration as in bright light. They simply do not require such intense sun protection in those areas. Again, Devil's Dream® stands out among all Photinias, as its branches retain their spectacular, long-lasting, vibrant red color even in shadier locations.

Devils Dream, Hecke im Garten in L-Form, Beet

The beech hedge: native deciduous tree in hedge form

The European beech (Fagus sylvatica) is a deciduous tree that belongs to the group of trees that shed their leaves. Despite being a tree that can grow up to 30 meters tall, it is also well-suited for growing as a hedge and is therefore frequently found in gardens. Beech hedges retain their dead leaves well into winter, often even into spring. They grow densely branched and offer an attractive appearance even with dry foliage. European beech trees have a slow growth rate. Beech hedges thrive in well-draining, nutrient-rich, and moist soil, as well as consistent environmental conditions.

Planting a beech hedge can provide variable privacy – dense in summer, slightly more permeable in winter.

Hedge plant Thuja: widely popular classic

Various varieties of the Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) are also extremely tolerant of pruning and make excellent hedge plants, provided that caution is exercised. If more than just the green scale-like leaves are accidentally trimmed, the plant will not regrow in that area. Arborvitae trees, when allowed to grow freely, can reach heights of up to 20 meters and live for approximately 180 years. However, there are also smaller varieties, such as Tiny Tim, which are attractive as solitary plants in containers. Arborvitaes thrive in moist, nutrient-rich, sandy soils, as well as full sun locations. However, they are quite adaptable.

Planting an Arborvitae hedge can serve as a privacy screen, space divider, or as a solitary specimen plant.

Special case of yew: frost-hardy hedge for life

Of all the plants for hedges, the yew (Taxus) holds a special position because its deep-rooting nature makes it one of the most tolerant needle evergreens to trimming. It can easily withstand heavy pruning and reliably regrows. Yew hedges can be pruned very narrowly, which can be advantageous. Even intricate shapes can be created from them. For your garden, you can choose between the European yew (Taxus baccata), the Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata), and a hybrid of both species that grows in an upright manner (Taxus × media). All species are shade-tolerant. Each has its own specific growth forms - some varieties can grow up to 15 meters tall. But beware: yews are highly toxic. Yew hedges love deep, loose, and moist soils.

Plant a yew hedge as... garden border, solitary shrub, bird food.

Particularly fast-growing hedge plants

Sometimes, there is a need for quick solutions, like when a new environment situation urgently requires privacy. In such cases, it is best to combine two strategies: purchasing larger plants for your hedge and selecting fast-growing varieties. Yew and holly are less suitable in this case, as they only grow about the width of a hand per year. You would be better off with the following specialists:

Deciduous beech trees, when well-established and properly maintained, can easily grow up to 50 cm per year.

Particularly vigorous evergreens are certain varieties of thuja and privet. Both plants can grow up to 30 cm per year.

The Leyland cypress (× Cuprocyparis leylandii) is a fast-growing tree that can achieve growth of up to 100 cm per year – within two to three years, it can reliably provide privacy from prying eyes.

The glossy-leaved Devil's Dream® also achieves growth of 20 to 50 cm per year, with its spectacular, fiery-red new shoots. Devil's Dream® is available for sale in sizes of up to 2.00 m.

Devils Dream, Nahaufnahme der roten Blätter, Pflanze