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Choosing native hedging for a small urban garden


By Evv

United Kingdom Gb

My garden is 4 metres square on a windy site. Soil seems to be clay but doesn't seem to get badly waterlogged - seems may have had sand mixed in at some stage.

Planning to plant down 2 sides, but one is at the edge of a path so only 50 cm of soil between the path & fence. The other fence is at the edge of a small lawn which I intend to try to turn into a mini meadow.

I have been reading about lots of shrubs - ruled out trees as I imagine even small ones would probably be too big for the size of garden. I really need advice about if any of the following are likely to grow too big for the site, or if careful pruning can keep them to about 1.5metres high by 1 to 1.5 metres wide:

Hazel (Corylus Avaliana), Blackthorn (Prunus Spinosa), Dogwoods (Cornus Stolonifera), (Cornus Sibirica), (Cornus Alba), Dog Rose (Rosa Canina), Elder (Sambucus Nigra), Flowering Currant, Guelder Rose, Euonymous Fortunei Emerald Gaiety & Viburnum Tinus.

When I have looked up many of these plants their height and spread can be 2 - 4 metres yet lots of the hedge sellers seem to advise to plant 3 - 5 whips per metre. I am an inexperienced gardener but it seems like this would take over the entire garden with hedge.

Last thing. Most of the online sites seem to have a minimum spend which I'm not sure I can reach without buying more whips than I can feasibly fit in the space I have. How many plants do you think would fit in the garden comfortably, - could any of them happily live in a largish pot about 50cm cubed?

Thanks for your help

Ev (Denton Greater Manchester)



Hi Evv Euonymous Fortunei Emerald Gaiety (with the silver queen one) would work as can be pruned. For your sizes - Lavendula makes a good hedge. Boxus can be cheap!
I would avoid prickly plants in this area and on the plants the spacing is usually given.
Good luck

3 Sep, 2009


I have blackthorn and hawthorn down one side and it is lovely and as you say they are british natives. You can prune as hard or light as you like. and the thorns are a good deterent for people walking through.

the flowers are good for the insects and then berries in the autumn for the birds too. only draw back [ if it is one] is they are both deciduous.

3 Sep, 2009


You might be better using a climber on the fence by the path instead of a hedge, plants always spread further sideways than you think. You don't want to rub against wet foliage all winter. Euonymous could work as long as you clip it regularly to keep it within bounds. Cornus would be good for the other side as you cut it down to 6 inches every Spring so size is not such a problem. Elder gets huge and you will regret it. Shrubs will need to be 4 or 5 feet apart otherwise they will crowd each other in a few years. Plant herbaceous plants in between whilst the shrubs grow.

3 Sep, 2009


If you're looking to create a hedge, recommended planting distance (depending on variety) is a foot to 18 inches apart. For the area you describe as being only 50cm deep, I think you might be better off looking for plants which have a columnar growth habit - everything else will not like being allowed to only bush out by 18 inches. If you don't mind a deciduous hedge, there is a columnar dark leaved Berberis - thunbergii "Helmond's Pillar". There are also some conifer cultivars which are naturally columnar in shape, though you'd have to select one that didn't mind being trimmed regularly. The one you've mentioned that will tolerate being cut and restrained back to 18 inches wide is Ribes sanguinum (flowering currant), though having to restrain it so much might mean you lose flowers. Otherwise, Euonymus might be the answer, as long as you're prepared to keep on top of restraining its spread.

3 Sep, 2009


Thorny hedges leave thorny clippings that you might miss (think of kids, pets). If its a perimiter hedge and you want to keep out tresspassers then thorny is the way to go.
If the hedge will be next to a footpath, do you really want to snag your clothes every time you walk past? Plus Hawthorn and Blackthorn are slow growers. Same with Box (Buxus).
Do you want an evergreen or a deciduous hedge?
Chinese Privet - evergreen.
Beech - Deciduous (but it holds its dead leaves overwinter).
So much to think about, so much choice.

4 Sep, 2009

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