Why not go for a four-seasons hedge? Bored with drab monochrome conifers? Bring a bundle of delight to the neighborhood with a mixed hedge of ornamental flower, leaf and fruit shrubs.
It will give you an ever-changing scenery as seasons come and go.
Read our other articles related to hedges:
- Setting up and growing hedges that are evergreen or flowered
- All there is to know on trimming hedges
- Attracting butterflies with plants and flowers
Choosing the right shrubs
Your own particular tastes will guide you to favor shrubs either for their blooming (colors, season, duration), leafage (green or purple, mottled or homogeneous, golden or silver, and all the fall hues like dark green, scarlet or copper), fruits (ornamental or bird-pleasing), or their fragrance (leaf smell or flowers).
Personally, among the fragrant bushes my preference goes to winter honeysuckle, Daphne which has nice wood and mock-orange. Some shrubs like caryopteris also have very fragrant leaves. If you love butterflies, call them over with shrubs that have nectar-laden flowers (lilac, caryopteris). Some horticulture stores offer “ready-plant” hedge kits for four-seasons hedges, including for instance tamarisk, forsythia, red currant bushes, weigela, snowberry and guelder-rose.
Planting the hedge
The ideal time to plant a hedge is around the feast of Saint Catherine on November 25th for shrubs sold with bare roots, but shrubs purchased in pots or containers can be planted all year round, except when it freezes or during dry spells.
Each hole must measure more or less 16 x 16 x 16 inches (40 x 40 x 40 cm). Spacing depends on the variety: from 20 inches (50 cm) up to 6 ½ feet (2 meters). If your soil has lots of clay, lighten it towards the bottom to ensure drainage with gravel, broken pot shards or expanded clay pebbles. Cut short roots that stick out and broken branches.
- You can also prepare root dip to coat the bare roots of shrubs not sold with their ball of soil. Root dip is prepared from cow manure, soil and water.
- Remove the container from plants sold in plastic pots, and untangle the root ball.
- Dip the shrubs for a few minutes in a bucket before planting.
- Don’t bury the root crown in the soil.
- Backfill the planting hole, pressing the soil in and water each plant with two full watering cans to chase out any air bubbles.
Caring for the hedge
If it doesn’t rain after planting, water your hedge abundantly. To slow weed growth, mulch along the hedge. Prune new growth during the first year to stimulate their vigor, but only after flowering. After that, pruning mostly focuses on keeping a harmonious balanced shape.
Pierrick Le Jardinier