Hedges in the Garden and Landscape

Hedges in the Garden and Landscape - Formal Hedge in the Garden
Formal Hedge in the Garden

The Hedges in the Garden and Landscape consist of the Hedges Plants of the of the Garden and the Landscape‘, was the conclusion reached after long discussions by the editorial team of ‘Kalliergeia‘. And this immense depth intellectual insight of the editorial team has, in some ways, extricated it to the writing of this article and its publication – since high intellectual achievements must have a direct recipient of society.

By this article, the editorial team of ‘Kalliergeia‘ answers to questions that have never been asked, such as:

  • What are Hedges ?
  • What is the purpose of creating Hedges?
  • What categories and types of Hedges are there?
  • Is there an extraterrestrial life or are we alone in the Universe?

And if for the first of them there may be some objections to the adequate documentation of the answers, for the last question there is no room to make the slightest objection, the slightest doubt: not just we are not alone in the Universe, but at peak times, you can not to get a taxi even if you are the Pope of Rome.

Informal hedge compounded of Meadowsweets

Spiraea x cinerea 'Grefsheim', in Blooming Used as an Informal Hedge
Spiraea x cinerea 'Grefsheim', in Blooming Used as an Informal Hedge
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What Are Hedges?

Hedges, in the broadest sense of the term, is any narrow surface of land, which is permanently occupied by plant sets of one or more species.

From a different angle, it could be said that a hedge is the set of woody plants planted in relatively close, close or very close distances to form with or without pruning a plant barrier or wall.

The first approach is quite open and from a certain point of view, more complete. And this, since it allows the inclusion under the term Hedges even in those that do not contain woody species. Thus, among the Hedges, one can count on those created by various grasses – some of which have extremely interesting functional and other characteristics.

Hedges in the Garden and Landscape

History of Hedges

Hedges seem to have evolved and developed almost in parallel with the invention, evolution and development of agriculture. The oldest traces of Hedges use go back at least 6000 years before today.

Neolithic Age

In the Neolithic Age, Hedges are used to protect crop land with grain. They are surrounded small fields, protecting crops mainly from the wind.

Ancient Times

Leaving Prehistory and entering the Historical Age, the first undisputed descriptions of Hedges appear. Specific references are made to the Roman period, where are found the first descriptions of Hedges that are cultivated exclusively for ornamental purposes.

A reference to Hedges exists in the work of Siculus Flaccus. Siculus Flaccus, was a Roman land surveyor ( gromaticus) and writer on land surveying in Latin, of the 1st century AD. Siculus Flaccus, among others, seems to have introduced the distinction between public, local and private roads.

At some point in his work, which was included in a collection of gromatic treatises of the 6th century AD, he writes: ‘If hedges form the boundary, record their species; whether they are only on the extreme edge [of the property], because there are often bushes in the middle of fields owing to farmers’ neglect; and whether they are artificially planted. For if a region does not have shrubs which can form a protection for vineyards or gardens, they are imported from distant regions and planted. And trees are often to be found put in Hedges‘.

But also the Pliny – uncle and nephew – are speaking for Hedges.

Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD) makes frequent references to to box hedges, which the Romans treat as short live fences on either side of the walks and the paths of the gardens.

Pliny the Younger (62-110 AD) writes in his ‘Letters‘ about the gardens of his villa in Tuscany, which featured plenty of Hedges and topiary, and describing them as ‘embellished by various figures and grounded with a box hedge that they are variegated with scholas in which various forms are given‘.

Medieval & Modern Times

In medieval times, the practice of creating Hedges has spread. They are created on the edges of arable land to separate the fields and protect them primarily from wind and water erosion.

The most common plant species used as Hedges, at least in Europe, belong to the genus Crataegus, Salix, Corylus, and Prunus.

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, the planting of Hedges is spreading even more, and with them also the planting of Hedges for ornamental purposes only.

Contemporary Times

Having consolidated the value and significant contribution – amongst others – of Hedges to preserving biodiversity, the practice of planting them seems to be spreading even more – after a period of relative indifference or deterioration of their role.

Nowadays it is estimated that agricultural land and Hedges (hedgerows) that are apparently developed together, coexist over about 10% of planet’s land surface.

There is no question about ornamental use of Hedges: in any form they will still have a significant presence, since they are important elements of modern gardening and landscaping.

Hedges in the Garden and Landscape

Evergreen Hedge adds Interest to Winter Garden
Evergreen Hedge adds Interest to Winter Garden

Categories of Hedges

In general, it could be said that the main categories of Hedges are two:

  • Rural or/and agroforestry Hedges
  • Ornamental Hedges

Without being imperceptible to each other, however, it is a fact that different roles are required to play from each other, performing different functions.

And while for the first one there will be a special tribute, for which the second many items will be given later in the article.

… If the reader sees it, send us a picture.

Hedges in the Garden and Landscape

Hedges in Garden & Landscape

The presence of Hedges in the small or large gardens of the city and the countryside confirms the fact that they cover different practical and other needs. But what are these needs, or the different question asked, what are the motives, the reasons for creating Hedges?

So the reasons for creating Hedges can, among other things, be:

  • Aesthetics
  • Environmental
  • Ecological
  • Security
  • Protection

Hedges in the Garden and Landscape

The Functional Dimensions of Hedges

The motives or the reasons for creating Hedges are largely revealing the functions that they perform or are required to perform in a given space. Immediately below, the functional dimension of Hedges is examined for the reasons for their creation.

The Aesthetic Dimension

The Hedges, depending on their type and the type of plant or plants they contain, can be objects of particular aesthetics.

This is made possible by:

  • The beauty that comes from the plants itself of a hedge
  • The strong impression that comes from the hedge itself, when it is trained into a robust shape

The Environmental Dimension

It is a fact that, in both country and suburban and urban landscapes, ornamental Hedges, together with trees and all other green infrastructure, perform some important environmental functions.

On this one could be said what:

  • In the cities, with a well thought-out low-hedge spatial planning and planting, the damaging effects of urban air pollution can be alleviated satisfactorily, since Hedges can improve city air quality
  • Some recent research projects provide clear evidence that in a street canyon environment, high-level vegetation canopies (trees) led to a deterioration in air quality, while low-level green infrastructure (Hedges) improved air quality conditions
  • In areas where gardens may be exposed to wind or water erosion, well-thought-out Hedges can be a powerful anti-erosion agent
  • Hedges can largely prevent the transport of sediment, nutrients and pesticides from neighbouring fields or gardens themselves through surface flow (due to water or air), while preventing their concentration in other aquatic bodies, streets and other areas
  • Hedges can reduce noise levels, as plants absorb high-frequency sounds which are most bothersome to human ears, than they are at absorbing low frequency sounds – especially when they are made up of evergreen species
  • Hedges when created on earthen berm can in combination reduce the noise level from 6 to 15 decibels, a noise that the human ear will perceive as one-third to one-half as loud

The Ecological Dimension

Hedges, even in the crowded environment of the city center, can be an ecological island – habitat of birds, insects and animals.

Along with rural Hedges, they contribute greatly to preserving and increasing biodiversity.

The Dimension of Security

Hedges, while they can not prevent invasion of any government in the private area, can instead prevent the entrance of another professional team – competitive to a degree of the former – such as the thieves.

Forensic data suggests that the always inventive group of thieves comes busting in when:

  • Access to the house is easy
  • There is no one in the house
  • There are no other houses or if there are, the tenants have no visual contact with the target residence

From the above concluded, that, if access to the space is difficult, is difficult to decide and a thief who honors his profession to invade.

For Hedges to be deterrent, should:

  • Be extremely dense
  • Have a height of 2 m and above
  • Consist of thorny plants or plants with spines
  • Consist of plants whose leaf edges act as ‘blades’

In general, deterrence function of a hedge, when installed as described above, does not only apply to the protection of the home, but also applies to the protection of business spaces.

Fire Protection

For residences that are in areas where fires and wildfires are frequently encountered, such as those bordering on forests or still are in the forests or in fire sensitive ecosystems, safety and protection must be a key priority. To this end, Hedges can positively contribute.

However, in order to achieve this, should be selected for its creation those plant species, which either are difficult to ignite or function as interceptions to fires. It goes without saying that the same approach should be followed for the rest of the garden plant sets, as they should be non-flammable and fire-resistant.

Wind Protection

In windy areas, creating a suitable plant windbreak can provide a green wall that will adequately control the motion and wind speed.

But more about the windbreaks, let the always patient reader of ‘Kalliergeia‘ expect in a special future tribute (when pigs fly against the wind).

Protection of Privacy

There is nothing more relieving than an extremely observant neighbor, who can make known to the observed neighbor, what color of underwear the latter is wearing when he opens his laptop, as he drinks his coffee on the wooden table in his garden , under the wooden pergola, with the purple bougainvillea and the jasmine.

And if paradoxically, the observed neighbor shows a somewhat disturbed of his shrewd observant neighbor, he will risk being characterized as eccentric, if he decides to raise his existing hedge a little more, so as to act as an optical barrier between his own garden and the garden of the shrewd observant neighbor.

And if the eccentric neighbor finally realizes his decision and takes care of the height of his hedge, so that it is directly proportional to the depth of his shrewd observant neighbor, and in addition, includes few dozens of permanently hungry wild carnivorous plants, then the not exactly complimentary characterizations for his person will fall as the rain, in a rainforest in a stormy day.

Hedges in the Garden and Landscape

Hedges in the Garden and Landscape -A Formal Garden Hedge with a Strip of Agapanthus
A Formal Garden Hedge with a Strip of Agapanthus

Types of Hedges

On the basis of certain criteria, Hedges can be grouped into several different types.

Based on Height

The Hedges, based on their height, are distinguished into:

  • Very Low, when the height does not exceed 50 cm (1.6 ft)
  • Low, when their height does not exceed 1.20 m (3.9 ft)
  • Medium height, when not exceeding 2.50 m (8.2 ft)
  • Tall, when the height is greater than 2.50 m (8.2 ft)

Based on Foliage Behavior

Hedges, based on the persistence or not of the foliage, can be distinguished in:

  • Broad-leaf Evergreens, when they are consist of evergreen broadleaf shrubs and trees
  • Needle-leaf Evergreen, when they are consist of coniferous species
  • Deciduous, when they are consist of deciduous shrubs and trees

Based on Pruning Frequency

The Hedges, based on the pruning frequency, are distinguished in:

  • Pruning Hedges, when they often require pruning
  • Moderate Pruning Hedges, when pruned occasionally – and usually consist of flowering shrubs
  • Free Growth Hedges, when plants are not pruned or pruned once every two to three years

Based on Composition

The Hedges, based on the number of species that are part of their composition, are distinguished in:

  • Single-species Hedges, when they are consist of one species
  • Mixed Hedges, when consist of more than one species

Based on the Form

The Hedges, based on their form, can be distinguished in:

  • Formal, when formed in more or less rigid shapes
  • Informal, when the plants that consist them are allowed to take their natural shape

Hedges in the Garden and Landscape

Hedges in the Garden and Landscape - Hedge of Viburnum Odoratissimum Behind of a Low Fence
Hedge of Viburnum Odoratissimum Behind of a Low Fence

Hedge Design & Plant Selection

Planning a hedge is not particularly difficult for a professional garden designer or landscape architect.

Most of the time, Hedges are incorporated from the begining into the general design of the garden and respond adequately to the needs of its owners and users while at the same time being part of a wider composition and a certain perception of the appropriate style in relation to the use of the garden and its integration into the narrow or wider environment, create various attraction events and objects of particular aesthetic.

Of course, assigning a professional to designing the garden or its components, such as Hedges, has an unpleasant aspect: the designer’s fee.

But what if the owner of the garden is the aforementioned eccentric neighbor and who wishes to pay no remuneration by employing a professional to design living fences and Hedges?

Then he will necessarily do it himself. How? Taking into account certain techniques and norms that will help him to create a hedge that will bear his eccentric stamp.

Deciding Between Deciduous and Evergreen Plants

The basic differences between a hedge of evergreen plants and deciduous are practical and aesthetic, such as:

  • The deciduous species lose all of their leaves in a certain and short period of the year, so cleaning up space requires less labor and only for this period
  • Evergreen on the other hand, they lose their leaves throughout the growth period, requiring hands that clean the space at regular time intervals, and thus increase the maintenance cost of the garden
  • The deciduous trees and shrubs have infinitely more plastic properties than evergreen, depending on the time of the year that their appearance change
  • Evergreen trees and shrubs create real visual and sound barriers, having foliage all year round
  • A hedge consist of evergreen plants, when established in areas with harsh winters, more easily broken down by the weight of ice and snow, compare to a hedge consist of deciduous plants

Deciding Between Fast & Slow Growth Rate Plants

Plant selection based on their growth rate is crucial because:

  • The fast growth rate trees and shrubs can quickly form a hedge
  • If the hedge will be informal then fast growth rate plants – in most cases – are the right choice
  • If the hedge, on the contrary, is pruned and formalistic, then the better choice is slow growth rate plants, because is easier to train and requires less frequent trimming in the year

Optical Tricks

The Hedges, depending on where and how they are installed in a garden, as well as the plants involved in their composition produce various interesting visual results.

  • Low Hedges, installed parallel to the street, tend to show the garden smaller and box-like
  • Hedges that grow along a path or a lawn, tend to show the garden larger in length and narrower
  • Hedges, which are developed transversely and perpendicular to paths and lawns, tend to show the garden smaller
  • The medium and tall Hedges installed to act as optic barrier or as a background should consist of dark or mid-green in color foliage
  • The very low height Hedges that encircle flowering plant groups or they are severely pruned to maintain a shape, may consist of plants whose leaf coloris yellow, red, silver or bright green
  • The larger the garden is, the higher the hedge should be
  • The larger the garden is, the plants that make up the hedge can be coarser in texture, that is to say they have large-sized leaves and heavy twigs
  • The Hedges which are coarse in texture and have leathery foliage, glossy and intensely bright and green, tend to show the garden smaller, as they seems closer

Hedges in the Garden and Landscape

Mixed Hedge of Buxus, Lavandula & Olive Trees for Privacy Screen
Mixed Hedge of Buxus, Lavandula & Olive Trees for Privacy Screen

Successful Hedges

Successful Hedges are the ones that meet the needs of the users of a garden while at the same time they perform important functions in the given environment.

But in any case, every successful hedge create by the plants that participate in its composition. But what are these plants?

The always patient reader of ‘Kalliergeia‘, let us expect – seriously – separate tributes on only suitable for hedge plants.

Hedges in the Garden and Landscape

Modern Formal Hedge with Informal Multi Shaped Box Balls Planting Under Trees
Modern Formal Hedge with Informal Multi Shaped Box Balls Planting Under Trees


The References to this short article entitled Hedges in the Garden and Landscape are presented by the outstanding artist Eddy Grant with the excellent song Living on the Frontline.

…. Living on the Frontline.

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Hedges in the Garden and Landscape


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