The Hedge: A Great Design Element for your Landscape.

By: Thomas Hunter

Many people take hedges for granted and donít consider what a great design element they can be for the garden. Donít be so quick to dismiss the wonder of the garden hedge!

Hedges serve a variety of different purposes. They are a nice and more natural alternative to fencing and can mark the boundaries of your property as well as wood or chain link fencing. Hedges also act as wind and privacy screen. A well-placed hedge can protect you from any prying eyes and nosy neighbors. Hedges are also natural barriers to different wildlife species.

Hedges also give your garden structure. They provide natural breaking points and give your garden a strong framework if placed properly. The bulk of hedges also balance the lighter flowers and foliage. Hedges are the perfect natural dividers for your garden.

When laying out your garden, you should consider how it is in relation to the house. Though gardens no longer have to take all their cues from the house (as they once did), but there still be some kind of natural flow to your garden. It is important to take some time and assess the long-term plan and look of your garden. Determining this will help you see how beneficial hedges will be in the grand scheme of things. Hedges will help define areas. They will also create sight lines and influence the perspective of your garden. Perspectives are important because they contribute to the underlying framework of your garden and it is the framework from which other elements take their cues. You need to make sure that there is a balance to your space and hedges are very effective as natural dividers.

Colored hedges may be attractive initially, but you will probably tire of them at some point. It is perhaps best to stick with green hedges. Other plants can give your garden the color you desire and the green of the hedges will provide an excellent background for these other colors.

Hedge shapes donít have to be boring or traditional anymore. Hedges can be clipped into more simple abstract shapes that give your garden a more contemporary look. If you prefer a more traditional look, than by all means go that route, but if you want something edgier or more contemporary, donít dismiss hedges just because you think they are too boring and not versatile. Just use your imagination!

There are two main styles of hedges: formal and informal. Formal hedges are probably what most people are more familiar with. Tall hedges can be more interesting that you might imagine, creating not only a sense of enclosure, but also one of mystery.

You can also play off the formal look of hedges in your garden. The smooth, well-trimmed formal hedge serves as a strong architectural element in many classically designed gardens, but these formal hedges also serve as a wonderful contrast to more wild and flower-filled garden spaces. Having the contrast of the formal, well-maintained hedge and free-flowing wildflowers can make quite a statement and be quite striking if done well.

Traditional hedges make use of more formal and structured designs that can be used in a contemporary manner, though some designers have used more curved and flowing shapes to great effect. The main point is that even the most traditional and formal hedges can look contemporary if placed in the right setting.

Informal hedges are used more for decoration than structure. They are often not clipped as neatly. Informal hedges make lovely edges for pathways.

Deciding on a formal or informal hedge really depends on the look you are going for and what you will like long term. Remember hedges will be there for years and you need to choose something that you will enjoy decades after they have been planted. Take the time to plot out your garden and choose the types of hedges that will suit the look you are searching for and the time you have to devote to your garden. You also need to remember that a hedge will grow and become wider over the years Ė this is particularly important to remember when planting a hedge near a driveway or a path. When considering hedges you need to think not only of your current needs, but also your future ones.

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