Make a hedge

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A hedge is a permanent living structure that is both pretty and practical. Hedges help define the 'lines' of a garden. Though not as instant as fences, they're a softer, friendlier kind of garden wall.

Generally the plants that make the best formal hedges are densely foliaged, long lived and require trimming no more than two or three times a year. The trade-off for a quick growing hedge is that it will need trimming more often. Most importantly you should choose a hedge that suits your soil and climate.


  1. Start with small to medium plants of an even grade. You may need to order these ahead of time.
  2. Invest time in soil preparations and your reward will be faster, healthier growth. Mark out the line of the hedge and dig the soil over to at least a spades depth, adding compost and slow release fertiliser.
  3. Space plants evenly, about 20cm apart for low hedges such as box, 40-50 cm for medium hedges such as corokia and 70 to100cm for tall hedges.
  4. Keep your newly planted hedge deeply watered.

Pruning and maintenance

  1. Prune young hedges in their first year after planting to ensure even, dense growth. Hedges planted in autumn should be cut back by a half during late spring. Trim again lightly in late summer.
  2. During the second winter (or in early spring) trim moderately to remove half the previous seasons new growth.
  3. Feed hedges at least once a year with a balanced fertiliser, ideally in early spring.
  4. Keep your hedge looking good with regular trimming. Box hedges should be trimmed twice a year in spring and autumn. Fast growing hedges benefit from more frequent trimming. Flowering hedges are generally pruned once a year, immediately after flowering. Avoid heavy pruning in autumn, as this promotes soft new growth more susceptible to frost damage.


  • A lack of light can cause a taller hedge to lose it's lower leaves. Avoid this by shaping with slightly sloping sides so that it is widest at the base.
  • In areas subject to snowfall, a gently rounded top helps protect the hedge from damage.

10 Top Hedges for New Zealand Gardens

1. Corokia
With fine foliage perfect for clipping, corokias rate among New Zealand's best low to medium hedges. The grey green native species, Corokia cotoneaster is outstanding, but a range of beautiful cultivars extends the list of choices. Favourites include 'Genty's Green', 'Frosted Chocolate', 'Bronze King' and 'Silver Ghost'. Corokias are frost hardy but well drained soil is essential.

2. Griselinia
Glossy bright green Griselinia littoralis is the latest fashion with its wavy leathery leaves. It can be grown at any height and is excellent in coastal gardens, but intolerant of prolonged wet feet and only moderately frost hardy. Best pruned with secateurs.

3. Coprosma
Quick growing coprosmas require regular trimming to keep growth compact, but their shiny colourful leaves make superb contrast and they're excellent in coastal gardens. Shiny green 'Middlemore' is an excellent low hedge.

4. Olearia
Olearias make ideal hedges for exposed locations. Olearia lineata has olive-like foliage and is amazingly quick growing, fine and open at first but quickly thickening to an excellent wind barrier. It will tolerate poor soils well. Olearia paniculata is a favourite in the South Island but prone to root rot in warmer climates.

5. Camellia
Camellias combine dark green foliage with colourful winter flowers. The early flowering sasanqua cultivars are especially good as hedges between 1 and 3m.

6. Michelia figo
In spring, a flowering hedge of port wine magnolia will fill a garden with heady perfume. The shiny light green foliage makes an appealing formal or informal hedge. Michaelia enjoys the same conditions as camellias.

7. Cupressocyparis 'Leighton Green'
One of the fastest growing conifers, Leyland Cypress is a traditional favourite for tall formal hedging. It forms a rich green, highly textural wall, resistant to cold, drought, coastal and wind.

8. Feijoa
With attractive grey green foliage, a feijoa hedge provides excellent shelter with fruit as an optional bonus. Feijoas grow best in a warm climate, with full sun and protection from frost when young.

9. Teucrium fruticans
Silver-grey foliage makesa spectacular contrast with any dark green foliage. Fast growing Teucrium demands regular trimming to keep growth compact. The ideal height range is 50cm to 1m.

10. Buxus
The archetypal English box hedge, loved for its dark green foliage and long life, is grown mainly as a low hedge, 20 to 80cm tall. In humid climates a fatal fungus disease is cause for concern, but Euonymous, Lonicera or Hebe are good alternatives.




Corokia 'Frosted Chocolate' hedge

Camellia hedge

Buxus hedge