Evergreen bushes or flowering shrubs make excellent hedge plants that can add life and aesthetics to any garden. However, these plants can be challenging to grow and maintain the way you imagined. The first step is to know how many plants are necessary to make a thick and healthy hedge.
You need 2-4 plants per meter for a hedge. The ideal space between plants is 10-20 inches (25-50 cm). However, the space and the number of plants can vary depending on the plant you plan to use, how widely it can spread, how tall your hedge is, and how quickly the plants can grow.
Hedges can look neat and fancy in any garden, but the care that goes into maintaining their look can be pretty challenging. Please read on to discover the number of plants you need for a hedge depending on the above mentioned factors.
Factors to Consider When Planting a Hedge
Gardeners grow hedges for several reasons, including:
- Improving the aesthetics of the garden
- Making territorial fences or barriers
- Providing shade or wind protection to shorter plants
Regardless of the reason, there are some essential points you need to understand and carry out to create a successful hedge. One of which is knowing how many plants you’ll need to grow.
When planning to grow plants to form a hedge, it’s easy to imagine how you want them to look. However, several things can go wrong that would make your hedge turn out differently from what you imagined.
Nonetheless, it helps to have a vision that will lead you to take the initial step. Often, that vision can give you an idea of what kind of plant would best serve your purpose for starting a hedge.
How Many Plants to Choose for Your Hedge
Some people want an evergreen hedge, while others prefer seasonal blooms. Depending on your choice, you might need different amounts of plants to make up your envisioned hedge.
Either way, there are several factors you need to consider for each:
Colorful hedges with beautiful blooms are an object of envy for many gardeners. What viewers fail to see, however, is how much care and effort go into making such a captivating sight.
Although they can provide amazing visuals for your garden, using flowering shrubs for a hedge can require a great deal of knowledge, planning, effort, and patience.
If you want to use flowering shrubs as a hedge, you must know when the flowers bloom. It is best to use perennials that don’t shed their leaves in winter. Otherwise, you will have a hedgerow full of dead-looking sticks during the cold season.
Proper spacing is also necessary to help the buds absorb sufficient nutrients from the ground during the budding season so they can bloom fully later on.
If you are growing the same plants with different-colored varieties, it helps to select colors accordingly and space them properly during planting. That way, you will get your desired effect as the hedge grows and thickens yearly.
However, note that flowers require different pH levels to have different colors (i.e., blue flowers need low pH). So it may be easier to grow only one variety of flowers.
Flowering shrubs can be challenging to prune as the flowers tend to bloom in all directions. Overcrowding will negatively affect your hedge’s appearance, requiring excellent pruning techniques and experience to lead the flowers to bloom where you want them to.
Otherwise, you can give up on maintaining a straight hedge. Anyway, a rounded hedge with beautiful blooms also looks nice!
Evergreen hedges are perfect for any garden because they don’t shed their leaves in the fall or winter. That way, they can provide you with the privacy and greenery you need all year round.
When growing evergreen perennials in your garden, you’ll have to consider how quickly they can grow and how wide their spread will be in the next few years. If you’re keeping them for a decade or more, you will need to meet their regular pruning needs to prevent overcrowding.
Shrubs around 3 feet (90 cm) tall with the same spread ideally should be spaced 12-18 inches (30-45 cm) apart. So if you have a 10 feet (3 m) long straight hedge with only one type of plant, you can plant 7-10 shrubs.
How to Decide on the Number of Hedge Plants
Beyond choosing the correct plant for your hedge, there are other important factors to consider regarding the dimensions of your hedge plants. If you intend a small barrier or a towering division, it all depends on the expected growth pattern of your hedge varietals.
When choosing the number of plants for your hedge, you should consider the following factors:
How Wide the Plants Spread
Whether you plan to use one type or several different types of plants for your hedge, you have to consider the maximum spread of each plant. It can help you decide the optimum number of plants to grow.
Otherwise, your plants will suffer from numerous issues, such as:
Competition for Nutrients From the Soil
If the roots spread outwards instead of downwards, you risk having your plants competing with their neighbors for nutrients and moisture. Plants that have to compete for nutrients and sunlight may become stunted and leggy, which is not ideal for a hedge space. That’s why proper spacing is necessary.
Another risk for inappropriate spacing is the overcrowding of plants. The branches of neighboring plants are likely to entangle as they grow wider.
You can fix the appearance of your hedge through regular and skillful pruning. However, not all gardeners and hobbyists have the time or skills to prune their hedges properly.
Thin Hedges That Don’t Provide Enough Coverage
Some plants take several years before they can fill out the gap and form a hedge. It requires patience and proper care to eventually achieve that dense and bushy appearance.
However, too much space between plants can leave your hedge looking less attractive with irregular gaps that can be challenging to fill even after several years.
It can be pretty challenging to fix the problem with spacing when your hedge plants are fully grown. That’s why it’s necessary to understand the growing mechanism of the plants you plan to use.
Shrubs usually spread as wide as their full height at maturity. So if you expect your plant to grow four feet (120 cm) tall, you can expect it to spread also 4 feet (120 cm) wide. The next plant should be 18-24 inches (45-60 cm) away.
It is often better to lean towards the lower limit of the recommended space to have a dense hedge sooner. You can then maintain the hedge through regular pruning or shearing to avoid overcrowding. Careful maintenance is essential for flowering shrubs.
How Tall Your Ideal Hedge Is
Another tricky thing about hedges is using trees instead of shrubs. You can guess how wide they will spread with shrubs based on how tall you expect them to be at maturity.
Meanwhile, trees don’t grow the same way, and some tall shrubs may be more challenging to manage as the hedge becomes fully established.
If you want to use tall conifers for your hedge to serve as a boundary for your property, note that they may not be able to provide full coverage as they grow taller. As a result, you will need to space them closer to create a dense hedge.
You can plant them 1-2 feet (30-60 cm) apart. Note that some conifers will have wider bottoms and narrow tops, while others may be narrow from top to bottom. Depending on what shape you want your hedge to be, you may need to prune tall trees aggressively.
However, it is best to remember not to cut the top of the trees to get a stouter hedge. If you want a shorter, bushier hedge, you might as well find and use medium-sized shrubs up to 6 feet (1.8 m) tall.
How Quickly the Plants Grow
As discussed, many plants used for a hedge may take several years to establish fully. So you might not enjoy your hedge for a while after planting. It may take at least 3-5 years to see any result.
It’s necessary to understand how quickly the plant you choose for your hedge can grow. That way, you can select plants appropriately and apply proper spacing. It can also help you set a schedule for their pruning requirements.
In addition, as your plants grow, they may attract some wildlife, such as insects and birds, to your property. Knowing how quickly your plants grow can also help you devise any deterrent to keep unwanted wildlife away.
Making an attractive and dense hedge can be challenging. It requires thorough planning, careful execution, and adequate maintenance to keep your hedge functional and thriving.
Experts recommend you to grow 2-4 plants per yard to create a beautiful hedge, and it can still vary depending on the following:
- Type of plant
- Expected height of the plant
- Spread or width of the plant
- The time it takes for the plant to mature to its full potential
Understanding these factors can help you decide how many plants you’ll need for your hedge.