A spiral-shaped hedge maze is striking viewed from above. (Photo by Elena Bowell)
are many reasons to plant a hedge beyond just the practical.
A hedge can add a sense of formality, maturity and order to
the garden. It can also serve a transitional function, connecting
the residential architecture with the surrounding landscape.
Planted along a border pathway or entrance walkway, a hedge
helps direct movement through the garden and reinforces perspective.
A hedge can be planted to create distinct geometric patterns
on the ground, which adds strong form, interest and even whimsy
to the garden. In a city yard, a boxwood-edged parterre containing
a topiary or clipped tree makes a striking focal point. For
added interest and imagery, the parterre's shape can mimic
the outline of the house, or the pattern of a stained-glass
window or even a Persian rug.
An evergreen hedge of cedar, spruce, hemlock or holly makes
a good backdrop for a colorful perennial border. Its uniform
greenery intensifies the vibrant colors of the border plants.
The hedge also acts as a useful windbreak. Leave a buffer
strip to allow for maintenance access and to enable the roots
of the hedge plants to thrive without invading the border.
Combine a hedge with a fence or garden wall as a way to soften
it. In such a case, it's usually planted on the garden side.
(Check building codes and bylaws regarding such enclosures.)
When planting a hedge with an ornate iron fence, leave space
between the two, so that you can appreciate the fine ironwork.
This also facilitates pruning.
A hedge can be used to define garden rooms and to frame views.
To create pleasing proportions, use taller plants to delineate
a larger garden room and low plants for a smaller room. Consider
mounting a recycled window or door on a frame hidden in the
hedge to add mystery and surprise. Such viewing portals allow
glimpses into other garden rooms or the neighbor's inspiring