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Hedges or Screens


Having a formal or informal hedge can play an important role in the structure or character of a garden. They can act as a living barrier and add different colors, textures, or shapes than a typical fence. Hedges or screens also make excellent windbreaks or noise barriers (all depending on the type of plants you choose).


Hedges/Screens can be planted any way you wish, but there are two common practices for the plant placement. First, and the most common, is a single row. The single row works very well for formal hedges or areas where you want a nice screen without taking up too much yard space. Double row plantings are ideal for denser or wider hedges. For a dense double row hedge, we recommend staggering the plants so there are no empty spaces between the rows. These wider hedges are ideal for windbreaks. For a natural look use a variety of plants with different colors, textures, and flowering times.

Maintaining Your Hedge

Formal hedges need regular clipping to maintain their shape. For most plants you can trim them twice a year, continue reading for more information on pruning times on specific plants. Formal hedges can be pruned with shears or an electric trimmer. It is always a good idea to trim your hedge to be slightly wider at the base than the top. This helps to deflect strong winds and allows sunlight to reach the bottom of the plant. If you are considered about heavy snow sitting on the top of your formal hedges, trim the tops to point. Informal hedges require less maintenance, but still need regular shaping. For the most natural look use hand pruners.

Plants for Formal Hedges/Screens

Arborvitae (Thuja) :: trim in the spring and early fall

Bayberry (Myrica) :: trim 2-3 times a year

Beech (Fagus) :: trim once in the later summer

Boxwood (Buxus) :: trim 2-3 times a year

False Cypress (Chamaecyparis) :: trim 2-3 times a year

Hawthorn (Crataegus) :: trim twice a year, once in the summer and the fall

Holly (Ilex) :: trim in late summer

Hornbeam (Carpinus) :: trim once in mid-late summer

Lavender (Lavandula) :: low hedge - trim after flowering (spring)

Privet (Ligustrum) :: trim 2-3 times a year

White Pine (Pinus strobus) :: prune as the candles extend

Yew (Taxus) :: trim 2-3 times a year during the summer and fall

Plants for Informal Hedges/Screens

Azalea (Azalea) :: flowers in early spring, evergreen varieties work best for hedges

Barberry (Berberis) :: trim in the summer

Dogwood (Cornus) :: trim in fall, remove old canes to rejuvenate plants

Forsythia (Forsythia) :: trim after flowering

Holly/Winterberry (Ilex) :: trim in summer, less trimming than for formal hedge

Juniper (Juniperus) :: requires very little trimming

Lavender (Lavandula) :: trim in spring after flowering

Lilac (Syringa) :: trim immediately after flowering

Mock Orange (Philadelphus) :: shape up in summer

Ninebark (Physocarpus) :: shape up in late summer

Quince (Chaenomeles) :: trim immediately after flowering

Rose (Rosa) :: trim back long shoots in the winter, cut back to 12-18" in the spring when the buds first start coming out

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus) :: trim in spring

Sandcherry (Prunus x cistena) :: trim in winter, remove any vigorous shoots

Viburnum (Viburnum) :: trim mid- summer (usually no later than mid July)




While we strive for complete and correct information, not all plants grow true to their form and can not be guaranteed to grow as described.


plant profiles

Want specific descriptions of the plants we grow? Check out the plant profiles for information on all the trees, shrubs, and perennials we grow.