What is your residential or commercial landscape missing? You’ve planted thriving perennial and annual beds, accented lush, green turf or low-water designs with shade-giving trees, and ensured that the species you’ve chosen carry an eye-pleasing theme. But nothing truly ties together effective landscape design than hedges.
But aren’t they a commitment to constant hedge trimming? Aren’t they too expensive and time-consuming to maintain? Hedges aren’t the hassle some people believe them to be, and when you factor in these seven benefits, they’re absolutely worth the investment.
1. Enhance privacy
Tall hedges offer privacy along property lines, and on larger parcels, they create hidden spaces for relaxation, meditation, and even meetings and social functions.
If you have noisy (or nosy) neighbours, or your property borders a busy road, dense hedges can also dampen sound pollution. Hedges are valuable features in strata community designers seeking a more natural, park-like aesthetic.
2. Go green and clean
Most of us want to make an effort to save energy and think about the environment on both sides of our property lines. Hedges can help! Your landscaping scheme can help save on heating and cooling bills with strategically-planted trees and shrubs.
Hedges planted near buildings create an insulating air pocket against the hot sun or bitter cold, and shrubby barriers protect outdoor spaces, architectural finishes, and valuable landscaping plants from damaging wind. Thick, shrubby hedges help filter out dust, air pollutants, and windblown litter without completely blocking healthy airflow.
As a bonus, many hedge species provide a safe haven for songbirds and attract beneficial pollinators.
3. Direct traffic flow
Low hedges help keep pedestrians on established walkways, preserving turf and preventing unwanted traffic through private areas. Creative use of different species can help people orientate themselves within a property while adding depth and character to the overall landscape.
While most doggos enjoy visiting hedges on walks with their people, the natural barrier prevents them from leaving messes on turf or other surfaces while they’re on their way to designated pet areas.
4. Guide the eye to points of interest
Now that you’ve considered how hedges can direct foot traffic, let’s take a look at how they can draw the eye to focal points within the property: Architectural highlights, water features, vistas, outdoor art installations, formal gardens, even pickleball courts. An added benefit to using hedges to impress residents, clients, and visitors? You can draw their attention away from features that detract from the aesthetic, and use hedges to cover up undesirable features like unsightly fences, walls, maintenance sheds, and utility boxes.
5. Soften edges
…with hedges! (Sorry, we had to go there.) Hedges can naturally blend angled property boundaries by rounding off severe corners. Use them at pathway intersections, around foundation corners, or where two fence lines meet. A few metres of hedge plants can change the entire feel of a space, especially when they’re accompanied by smaller perennial or annual beds.
6. Abundant choices
Who said hedge trimming is all about making perfectly-symmetrical, uniform-height garden features? Some small-leafed species, such as Japanese box (Buxus microphylla) are ideal for formal, crisp, geometric designs, including squared sides and tops, while orange blossom (Choisya ternata ) is a popular choice for more casual landscapes.
These are only two of many shrubs suitable for NSW landscapes, and gorgeous Australian native species have successfully been cultivated as formal or informal hedge plants.
Once you’ve decided how you want to put hedges to work in your landscape, it’s time to narrow down your choices.
- Seasonal colours: While evergreen shrubs live up to their name year round, deciduous shrubs can exhibit brilliant foliage displays as the weather cools, or spectacular flowers in spring and summer.
- Texture: Individual leaves might be broad and waxy, or fine and feathery, and the hedge shrub’s overall silhouette can be tidy or wild. Some species look spectacular either way and are well-suited to those who aren’t certain about their long-term commitment to hedge trimming.
- Benefits to wildlife: Some shrubs produce berries and nectar that support birds and beneficial insects. However, these berries (and bird droppings) can generate an unwanted mess and aren’t the best option for car park or sidewalk boundaries.
- Lifespan and growth rate: Most homeowners and property managers want to see results fast, and some of the best hedge species establish quickly. Many remain vibrant long after stucco walls have begun to crumble, or fences have become rusted or rotten. Others require young plants to fill in where older shrubs have died, but replacing them is far easier and more economical than routine fence and wall maintenance.
- Predicted height and depth: There’s a hedge shrub for every space and need: Narrow, broad, short, or tall, with varying degrees of density.
- Maintenance: Most hedge shrubs do best on inexpensive, low-maintenance, water-saving low-pressure irrigation schemes and all but the most formal designs require hedge trimming and sprucing more than three or four times each year. Annual fertilisation is more than enough for non-flowering hedges, though nutrient needs are dependent on soil quality.
- Fire safety: When designing the landscape close to valuable structures, be sure to only plant trees and hedges known for fire resistance. Some species can even help screen out embers from nearby brush fires.
7. As hands-off as you want them to be
Hedge trimming and maintenance is a Zen exercise for many gardeners, but for others, it’s a task often left to commercial landscape professionals—even if you select shrub varieties requiring only occasional attention.
Ready to enhance your property with hedges?
Whether you choose crisp, formal hedge designs or hedges that reflect NSW’s botanical diversity in all its natural grandeur, their presence in your landscape adds value and beauty to your property with a surprisingly small investment. And the sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll appreciate the returns.