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.
Pruning and maintenance
10 Top Hedges for New Zealand Gardens
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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