Setting up a mixed hedge fulfills all the functions of a normal single-species hedge, and provides an added aesthetic touch to your garden that is quite unique all year long.
Unlike conventional single-variety hedges, natural mixed hedges will grant a host of different colors, shades and shapes depending on the species.
Here is how to set up a natural hedge:
How many shrubs for a mixed hedge
A rule of thumb is to plant one shrub more or less every yard (every meter).
- Consequently, a 20-yard (20 meter) hedge will need around 20 plants.
Best evergreen to deciduous ratio
Generally, a proportion of ⅓ evergreen to ⅔ deciduous is best.
However, if you’re looking to be visually cut off from neighbors and passers-by in winter, reverse this ratio, or even go for 100% evergreen shrubs.
Number of different species to plant
It makes sense to repeat each species at least twice along the hedge: this will make it seem balanced and homogeneous.
But any single species shouldn’t appear more than 4 times in the hedge.
- Hence, each shrub type should appear between 2 and 4 times depending on how long the hedge is.
Evergreen shrubs best suited to hedging
Among the most beautiful, common, and easy to care for, one can find:
- Berberis, which has nice shades of leaves and a cute spring bloom.
- Silverberry, a very trendy plant, with mottled leaves that shine light back around (Russian olive is better for Europe, but in North America it’s invasive).
- Photinia, which is remarkable for its flamboyant red leaves in spring and in fall.
- Soap bush, also a major player here, offers spectacular blooms in spring.
- Italian buckthorn, especially variegated cultivars
Most suited deciduous shrubs
Although they lose their leaves in winter, they are often very ornamental and bear many flowers in the other seasons:
- Lilac, with its fragrance and beauty is an enchantment from spring to summer.
- Forsythia shines like gold with its bright yellow flowers at the beginning of spring.
- Tamarisk will bring you joy and an uplifting atmosphere for most of the year (not for the Americas, however – tamarisk is invasive there).
- Meadowsweet is a shrub with delicate white flowers that will make you cry out in wonder.
- Weigela, a die-hard classic, deserves a place among the most common shrubs since it is a true marvel.
- Maule’s quince will offer magnificent shades of red at the end of the winter.
- Flowering currant, which will give you nice flowers although it doesn’t produce any edible fruits.
Creating a mixed hedge also has the incredible advantage of increasing your garden’s biodiversity.
Thanks to this hedge, you’ll reduce the impact of diseases and won’t need as many treatment products that are often bad for the environment.
Edible hedge with berries and herbs
What’s amazing is to turn a hedge into a boon for both neighbors, while still protecting your privacy. Select plants that you can use for cooking, fruits or pastries and jam… neighborhood relationships will never have gotten any better!
Try planting :
- Red berry hedges (raspberries, gooseberries, red, white and black currant). These might get a bit thin in winter, aim for double or triple rows and accept that their pruning isn’t as stringent as it may be in a normal berry orchard.
- Bay laurel, a prime ingredient of bouquet garni, grows abundantly and thickly. Leaves can be picked whenever needed. Prune severely as it can grow to nearly tree-size.
- Elder (black elder, for instance) makes for delicious jam. Its growth can be controlled to keep it hedge-sized. Attracts aphids away from the vegetable patch in spring. Also try growing hazel and you’ll have nuts to snack on in fall!
This will maximize your garden for productivity, biodiversity, and sheet pleasure of involving people around you with your special gift in gardening!
Read also on caring for hedges:
Smart tip about mixed hedges
These really stand out in the neighborhood and make the garden feel full of life!