Hedges for all occasions.

Posted by on Sep 11, 2012 in Articles | 0 comments

Hedges are often a very important part of a garden design, whether your style is contemporary, traditional or native.  A tall hedge can form a lush, green screen at the back of a garden border, can hide an unsightly fence and can help to provide a sense of enclosure and privacy. Small hedges, if used selectively, can provide a sense of structure to a garden, without imposing too much formality.

In my experience, some of the best medium to tall hedges are as follows:

Escallonia iveyi. This tough evergreen hedging plant has dark-green glossy leaves and an abundance of white flowers in spring. It can be grown as a hedge to between 1.5 and 2 metres by about 1 metre wide. It is very drought tolerant in terms of its water requirements, but in my experience its leaves can burn badly in Adelaide summers in full sun when the temperature reaches over 40. It does recover, but ideally it should probably not be placed in a position that is totally exposed to full sun all day long.

Murraya paniculata. This is a very hardy,evergreen, hedge species that will grow to approx. 2.5 to 3 metres high.  It can be kept to a width of about 1 metre if desired. It is very modest in its requirements and is reasonably fast-growing with attractive green foliage  and white scented flowers. Because it is fast-growing, it needs trimming two to three times a year. It will grow in full sun or part-shade.

Syzygium australe. (Lilly-pilly). This particular species of lilly-pilly has attractive, dense, dark-green foliage with reddish tipped new growth. It will grow to approx 3 metres or more, but is not as fast growing as Murraya. It will grow in full sun or part-shade, but is not as tough as Murraya in that it needs more water to get established and can sometimes get burnt if planted in a position that is exposed to full sun all day.  (It is also susceptible to psyllids, the small insects that cause small, blister-like sores to appear on the leaves. These can be controlled, however, if you find them to be a problem, by the application of Confidor, provided it is sprayed on at the first sign of  leaf disfiguration).

Acmena smithii minor. (Lilly-pilly). This species of lilly-pilly has bronze-coloured new growth and will reach a height of 3 metres, or smaller if desired. In terms of width, it can be clipped to between 1 metre and 1.5 metres, depending on your requirements. It does not suffer from psyllid attack. Once established, it has low water requirements. It can be grown in sun or part-shade.

Grevillea olivacea. This native species will form a dense olive-green hedge if clipped regularly. It has low water requirements once established and will grow in full sun. It can be clipped to a height of 2-3 metres by 1.5 metres.

Viburnum suspensum. This evergreen hedging plant is best clipped to between 2-3 metres high and 1.2-1.5 metres wide. It has quite large leaves that are oval-shaped and slightly leathery. (I find it more attractive in appearance than the ubiquitous Laurustinus – Viburnum tinus, as its leaves have a slightly more glossy appearance). It grows best in part-shade and has low water requirements once established.

Viburnum odoratissimum ‘Emerald Lustre’. As the name suggests, this vigorous Viburnum has very attractive, shiny green leaves. Given the right conditions, it is a fast grower, to between 3 and 6 metres, and is spectacular in appearance. In the Adelaide plains it does best not in the full, glaring sun. It likes some protection and in summer, when the soil dries up, it is important to keep the water up. (It is not frost resistant)

Photinia robusta. This vigorous evergreen species with attractive red-coloured new growth is great where you need a tall hedge and you have plenty of space. Photinia robusta ‘Red Robin’ will reach a height of 6 metres, if desired, and a width of about 2 metres. It makes a great wind-break and/or can be used instead of a fence. It prefers sun but will tolerate light shade.

Hibiscus tiliaceus rubra. This species is actually a tree but lends itself well to being pruned to form an evergreen hedge. It has roundish, burgundy-coloured leaves and yellow flowers. It is fast-growing and can be pruned to a height of 3-4 metres, and kept to a width of between 1.2 and 2 metres. It also looks attractive if the lower branches are trimmed off, so that the line of single trunks below the hedge can be underplanted.  It does well  in coastal areas and has low water requirements once established. Sun or light shade.

Waterhousia floribunda. This evergreen tree from northern NSW  is becoming popular as a hedge plant. It can be clipped to approximately 4-5 metres high by 2 or more metres wide. It has attractive, glossy leaves, a slightly weeping habit and is quite fast-growing. The down side is that it needs regular water and is not drought tolerant. It also needs to be protected from wind and full sun. It would grow well against a protected, south-facing wall in part-shade.

Pruning. The most important factor to keep in mind is that regular pruning is much better than the occasional savage cut-back after a hedge has been allowed to get out of hand.  As a general rule, the faster-growing the hedge plant, the more often you will need to prune. Tip-pruning 2-3 times per year will encourage more bushy, dense growth.

Before you start the job, be clear about the shape you are aiming for. With a tall hedge, it is also important to bear in mind that you want the widest part of the hedge to be at the base. Thus, aim you clippers slightly inwards as you work your way up the plant. (This way you will produce a solid base, rather than a top-heavy plant, in addition to the fact that you will be allowing light to penetrate the whole way down the plant.)

Murraya paniculata, hedged to 1.5 metres


Hedging plants for Adelaide gardens

 Syzygium australe, hedged



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