Hedges are one of the most popular ways to create privacy or hide unsightly views in a landscape. Evergreen hedges are popular choices as they can be pruned to a desired height or shape, or left to grow naturally, and many are fast-growing and can tolerate sun or shade. When selecting plants to use as hedges, consider their rate of growth, sun and soil requirements, and the amount of space available in your landscape to be sure your new hedges will thrive.
Leyland cypress, or x Cupressocyparis leylandii, is a fast growing conifer that can grow up to 3 or more feet per year. The fast growth habit makes it a preferred tree for windbreaks and hedges. Leyland cypress is also an easy-to-care-for tree. It thrives in a wide range of soils as long as the soil has good drainage. The tree is graceful and the foliage is open and grows in symmetry when provided ample room. Plant trees 4 to 10 feet apart depending upon the desired denseness of the hedge. Leyland cypress grows to a maximum height of 30 to 40 feet and grows optimally in full sun or partial shade.
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American boxwood, or Buxux sempervirens, is also known as common boxwood. It is a wide spreading shrub that is used extensively in landscapes as a hedge. The foliage is dark green on top and yellow-green underneath. All varieties of boxwoods are well tolerant of cold weather and some varieties are fast growing. The Green Velvet, Green Mountain, and Green Beauty varieties grow 4 to 6 inches per year; the Rotundifolia boxwood grows 9 to 12 inches a year. Plant boxwoods in well-drained soil; they prefer sun to partial shade. These plants prefer a slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil. Boxwoods are shallow rooted plants and do poorly when planted in hot and dry soil. It is recommended to add at least 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch on the soil for optimal growth.
The privets (ligustrum) are popular plants for creating tall hedges and screens. These plants belong to the family of evergreen shrubs which are a native of North Africa, Europe and Asia. The privets are fast growing and grow almost everywhere including the seaside. The oval 1 to 2 inch long leaves are dark green and have a dense growth. The more popular varieties are the Japanese or waxyleaf privet, and the California privet. Plant in sun or partial shade and in well-drained soil. Prune regularly to keep hedge in shape especially during the growing season.