A garden hedge provides privacy, cuts down on noise, creates a barrier between properties or simply defines a garden area visually and physically. Some plants are better suited for garden hedges than others, depending on the needs of the gardener and location. In general, most bushes work well in hedges, and for especially tall hedges, small trees may be used as well. To create a good hedge, the gardener must commit to constant pruning and shaping. If left unattended for too long, hedges will run wild and require several years of care to be fully restored. The three most common shrubs used for hedges are privet, yew, and boxwood. Privet has dark green oval leaves and clusters of small white flowers which may be sweetly scented. Yew is an evergreen, needled shrub or tree with small red fruit.
Yew is toxic, and should not be planted around animals or young children. It is also slow growing, and requires several years to mature. Boxwood is another evergreen shrub with small green leaves, and is a very traditional material for garden hedges. The plants for the hedge should be planted at least three feet (one meter) apart so that they can grow evenly and will not become entangled. Spacing recommendations vary depending on the shrub. With patience and creativity, garden hedges can be grown into fantastic and fun shapes.