How to Make a Hedgerow

square hedges around trees

A hedgerow is a living alternative to a hard fence around your yard. They can be grown as privacy hedges, and as ornamental borders for gardens. Both evergreen and deciduous shrubbery and trees make ideal hedgerows. This guide will help you choose the most adaptable hedge shrub or tree for your purposes, and plant it with optimum spacing for future growth.

Step 1 - Decide on the Purpose of Your Hedgerow

For garden hedges, choose a deciduous shrub. They will flower in spring, and provide greenery as a backdrop to your garden all summer. Birds and butterflies will find shelter and nest in them.

In winter the open branches will allow some snow cover to drift over the garden, protecting rhizome and bulb flowers till spring.

For privacy hedges, select an evergreen shrub or tree with tightly knit branches. This will help block noise, keep wild small animals away from your pets, and shield you from inquisitive neighbors.

A privacy hedge can divide the car garage and tool shed from the rest of the backyard. Plant any deciduous or evergreen type.

Consult with neighbors about sharing the hedge if your houses are very close to each other.

Make a shrub maze on a large property. Keep it trimmed below 4 feet in height for the safety and enjoyment of all.

Step 2 - Plant your Hedgerow for the Most Effective Growth

Plant deciduous garden hedge shrubs, like lilac or forsythia, 4 feet apart. For a few years, keep the lowest branches intact for allover flowering. When lilacs grow taller, trim off the lowest branches to create lilac "trees," with lilacs blooming only near the tip.

For privacy hedges, plant the shrubs based on their width when mature. Put shrubs that are 5 feet wide at maturity at least 4 feet apart, to reduce the need for thinning.

You can also plant small pine, cypress or cedar trees several feet apart to create a privacy hedge. Prune only the very lowest branches of the trees as they mature, up to about three feet off the ground.

Step 3 - Consider Turning Your Privacy Hedge into a True Hedgerow

Large properties of over an acre in size are ideal candidates for European-style hedgerows, mass plantings of trees and low shrubs. Over the years they will resemble the threshold of a forest.

Cedar, cypress and pine trees make the best hedgerow bases. Birds and many beneficial insects make their homes among the branches.

Add deciduous crabapple and hawthorn, and berry bushes. Blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are excellent for hedgerows, as they provide food for birds and small rodents like chipmunks. Hazel bushes are a source of nuts.

Add some evergreen ivy to your hedgerow. It provides shelter for insects, butterflies and birds that stay for the winter months. In late summer, birds and insects get nourishment from its flowers and berries.

Whether you plant a garden hedgerow, privacy hedgerow, or a mass planting to create a forest-like hedgerow, you will add value to your property, and create a haven for many species of birds and animals.