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With the bustle of summer a fading memory, autumn offers opportunities to rethink and reshape a garden.

Among them is the chance to plant hedges, which can perform a variety of important roles.

Some, like evergreens, can be barriers to noise and offer privacy, deciduous plants can be used to create boundaries that provide better wind protection, while prickly and thorny hedges can help keep unwanted animals and people at bay.

Hedges can help divide up a garden, create contrast and provide shelter. They can bring interest through structure, texture and colour, as well as offering a vibrant habitat for wildlife, including nesting birds.

You don’t need permission to plant a hedge and there are no laws saying how high it can grow but thinking through the implications for your neighbours will save grief later.

Now is a good time for bare-root planting as plants will bed in over winter and have stronger growth next spring.

Your choice of hedging will depend on your tastes and needs and can be informal or formal. Here are some options:

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Box hedging in Thrive London's Old English Garden


Box is slow growing, doesn’t mind being in the shade and works well for low-level hedging or borders. If you have topiary ambitions, box is for you. Be aware it can be affected by the fungal disease box blight.

Cherry Laurel, also referred to as Common Laurel, are popular because they grow well in most soil conditions and make effective dense hedging. Boasting long, thick waxy leaves, laurel grows quickly, adding 30-60cms in a year, so needs annual clipping to prevent them becoming unruly.

Yew hedges are a staple of many formal gardens with their dense foliage which can be clipped and shaped. This versatile native evergreen is a slow grower that can cope with most soils.

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The changing colours of a beech hedge. Photo: Rudy and Peter Skitterians/Pixabay


One of the most popular deciduous hedge options is Green Beech which offers leaves that change from green to gold over the seasons.

Good for marking boundaries, it is low maintenance and requires a yearly pruning. It’s happy in most soils if they are well drained and not heavily shaded. With its dark leaves, Copper Beech can also create a stunning look but similarly won’t thrive in a very damp location.

Hornbeam looks similar to beech but its lime green leaves which turn copper in autumn are more serrated and crinklier. Like beech, it will keep its dead leaves throughout the winter.

Unlike beech, it can cope better with poorly drained and heavy soil and thrives in shady conditions. Requiring a yearly cut, it's good for formal hedging and also for wildlife.

These are just a few of many options available and when you have made your selection, check out our hedge planting guide.

Planting hedges

In this guide we look at how you can plant a hedge, and what to take into consideration before doing so.

Find out more