Why choose a hedge over a fence?
The number one reason to choose a hedge over a fence or wall is simply looks. A lush green boundary is just nicer to look at. But if you need more of a reason, hedges keep a space cooler, especially in a small, enclosed backyard, which can become a sweatbox with too many hard surfaces. Unlike fences and walls, which collect and radiate heat, plants have a cooling effect, making the space feel noticeably more comfortable.
Hedges are also great for reducing noise – planted in front of a fence or wall for best effect. They can help muffle traffic noise and, to a degree, noise from neighbours, while also reducing echo within your own backyard.
Are there downsides to hedges?
A hedge is going to take up a little more room than a fence, which might be a deterrent if space is limited. However, a hedge doesn’t have to be a great big bushy thing; 400mm is enough space for a hedge and, if that’s more than you can spare, some varieties of bamboo can grow in even less room.
Hedges also require maintenance, though not necessarily a prohibitive amount. How much work you can handle will determine what variety you choose. A fast growing plant, such as lilly pilly, delivers a huge hedge very quickly, but will need to be trimmed much more frequently. By contrast, a plant like podocarpus is slower to get established, but less work to maintain.
Choosing the right hedge for you
There is an exciting variety of hedging plants available, with myriad options beyond the usual clipped green specimens. You can make a hedge with a gorgeous flowering plant, like hibiscus or oleander, or with a fruiting plant, such lemons, cumquats or other citrus plants. One of Secret Gardens’ favourite hedging plants at the moment is the feijoa – New Zealand’s most popular fruit tree makes a striking hedge, with beautiful grey leaves, red flowers and delicious fruits.