Hedging conifers have been used throughout history as privacy screens, property boundaries and often to add an air of grandeur to a garden. The colour and texture of conifer foliage differ somewhat between species as you can see below. All of these conifers are evergreen hedging plants, so the colours you see below will last throughout all season, creating a vibrant feature hedge or a striking backdrop for your other plants. The dense foliage of conifers is also useful for blocking out wind and noise, adding to the benefits of planting a conifer hedge.
Hedging conifers take well to pruning and the rumour that they are 'garden bullies' is simply not true - pruning once or twice a year is more than enough to keep your hedge under control. The majority of conifers have a fast growth rate, making it easy to reach your desired hedge height in a relatively short period of time.
The following 5 conifer species are some of Best4Hedging's most popular hedging plants, and with the ability to provide you with year-round, instant cover and attractive foliage, it's no surprise that they have such a respected reputation in the gardening world.
Taxus baccata earns its name as the King of Hedging for a variety of reasons. Able to tolerate severe pruning, Yew is ideal to use for formal hedging and topiary and, once planted, this species can last for hundreds of years, documented as one of Europe’s longest-living plants. The Latin Baccata means to bear red berries, relating to the berry-like red arils that surround the seeds of Yew. In the past, Yew trees and hedges were commonly planted in churchyards around the UK, France and some Northern parts of Spain. The reason for this has never been confirmed, however some stories say that it was to prevent farm animals from straying onto the property and others tell that the trees would ward off evil spirits.
Western Red Cedar Hedging
The Latin name of this diverse hedge is Thuja Plicata, with Plicata stemming from the word plicare, meaning “folded in plaits” or “braided,” referring to the patterned form of the leaves. Although the bright, low-maintenance foliage that releases the faint fragrance of pineapple when brushed, is recognised as one of the best features of this hedge, the bark and wood of Western Red Cedar also have a wealth of uses, including being used throughout Europe and America as the main material in beehive frames.
Named after Christopher Leyland (the owner of the estate from which Leylandii was first developed), this is the fastest growing of all the hedging conifers. Leylandii is an extremely long-living species, with specimens found around the UK thought to have been planted in the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s – These specimens demonstrate the durability of this hedging plant as they remain very much healthy and still continue to grow. There has also been research into the air cleansing properties of Leylandii hedges; it is thought that the complex foliage structure of Cupressocyparis Leylandii plants can trap pollutants, reducing harmful gases in the air by up to 40%.
Golden Leylandii Hedging
Monterey Cypress Goldcrest Hedging
Cupressocyparis Leylandii Castlewellan Gold is a fairly recent variety of Leylandii, originating in the 1960’s from the Castlewellan estate in Northern Ireland. The golden foliage of this hedging plant is displayed in flat sprays, which makes for easy pruning. Golden Leylandii is especially tolerant of harsh weather conditions, including exposed sites and the evergreen foliage provides gardens with lasting colour – great for coastal planting.
The vibrantly coloured leaves of this hedging conifer produce a lemon fragrance when crushed, giving Cupressus Goldecrest its other commonly used name, Lemon cypress. Cupressus Macrocarpa Goldcrest, once fully established, is very tolerant of salt air making this a great hedge to plant in seaside and coastal areas. Recognised as a long-living species, it has been said that some Goldcrest hedges and trees have been found to be up to 2,000 years old. This is a great species to plant near patios or seating areas as the fresh lemon scent helps to repel mosquitoes.
Deciding to plant a conifer hedge will not leave you disappointed, but with so many worthy varieties to choose from, you may find that you struggle to plant just one!