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Shrubs for Hedges

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A hedge is a continuous and close planting of shrubs, and occasionally trees, along a boundary to protect and enclose a garden or property. A hedge can also be a division line within the garden to set one portion apart from another.

The term hedge does not necessarily imply a rigidly pruned and restrained growth, though it often is. Walls of living green can be developed by pruning or simply by allowing plants to grow close. An unsheared casual hedge belongs to a more free-and-easy landscape; also it requires more room.

Shrubs for hedges are commonly evergreen, but not always. The first choice for a clipped hedge is almost always an evergreen shrub. A clipped evergreen hedge will give an unbroken surface.

Flowering shrubs are effective for untrimmed hedges. Deciduous shrubs planted close together will create a garden wall that may be transparent in winter, but if plants are set close enough they will still serve as a boundary.

How to choose a shrub for a hedge

To choose a shrub or shrubs for a hedge, choose first a plant that will grow in your region or growing zone. Some plants that are evergreen in warmer zones may be deciduous in cooler zones. Know if you are choosing an evergreen or deciduous plant. Second, decide if you want a flowering or non-flowering hedge.

For quick results, set deciduous shrubs as close as 9 inches (23cm) apart and evergreen shrubs as close as 18 inches (46cm) apart. If you are not in a hurry, plants can be set further apart.

Thuja occidentalis hedge
Thuja occidentalis hedge

Shrubs for hedges

A-B Common NameBotanical NameZones
Abelia, glossyAbelia x grandiflora6-9
Arborvitae, EmeraldThuja occidentalis ‘Emerald’3-8
Azaleas, ExburyRhododendron Exbury hybrids4-8
Azalea, Northern LightsRhododendron ‘Northern Lights’4-7
Barberry, JapaneseBerberis thunbergii4-8
Bayberry, northernMyrica pensylvanica2-6
Boxwood, EnglishBuxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’6-8
Boxwood, Green BeautyBuxus microphylla ‘Green Beauty’5-9
Boxwood, KoreanBuxus microphylla koreana5-9
Boxwood, WintergreenBuxus microphylla ‘Wintergreen’4-6
Informal forsythia hedge
Informal forsythia hedge
C-F Common NameBotanical NameZones
Camellia, sasanquaCamellia sasanqua7-9
Cape honeysuckleTecomaria capensis10-11
CoralberrySymphoricarpos orbiculatus10-11
Currant, Green Mound alpineRibes alpinum ‘Green Mound’2-7
Dogwood, corneliancherryCornus mas4-8
Dogwood, grayCornus racemosa4-7
Euonymous, Manhattan spreadingEuonymous kiautschovicus “Manhattan’4-8
Firethorn, scarletPyracantha coccinea6-8
Firehorn, Yukon BellePyracantha angustifolia ‘Yukon Belle’5-9
Forsythia, borderForsythia x intermedia6-9
Juniper hedge and trees
Juniper hedge and trees
H-J Common NameBotanical NameZones
Hawthorn, IndianRhaphiolepis indica6-9
Hibiscus, ChineseHibiscus rosa-sinensis9-10
Holly, dwarf BurfordIlex cornuta ‘Bufordii Nana’6-9
Holly, dwarf YauponIlex vomitoria ‘Nana’7-10
Holly, Green LustreIlex crenata ‘Green Lustre’4-6
Holly, winterberryIlex verticillata3-9
HoneysucklesLonicera spp.Varies
Ixdora; jungle geraniumIxora coccinea10-11
Jasmine, downyJasminum multiforum9-10
Juniper, Parson’sJuniperus chinensis ‘Parsonii’3-9
Juniper, tamJuniperus sabina ‘Tamariscifolia’3-7
Privet, Ligustrum, hedge with topiary art
Privet, Ligustrum, hedge with topiary art
L-P Common NameBotanical NameZones
Laurel, cherryPrunus caroliniana6-9
Lilac, commonSyringa vulgaris3-7
Lilac, cutleafSyringa x laciniata4-8
Lilac, Miss KimSyringa patula ‘Miss Kim’3-7
Lilac, PersianSyringa x persica3-7
OleanderNerium oleander8-10
Photinia, redtipPhotinia x fraseri6-9
Pieris, JapanesePieris japonica5-8
Pieris, mountainPieris floribunda4-8
Pittosporum, JapanesePittosporum tobira8-10
Potentilla, shrubbyPotentilla fruticosa2-7
Privet, AmurLigustrum amurense3-7
Privet, Chinese variegatedLigustrum sinense7-10
Privet, golden vicaryLigustrum x vicaryi5-8
Privet, wax-leafLigustrum lucidum7-10
Silverbery, Elaeagnus pungens,
Silverbery, Elaeagnus pungens, is a shade-tolerant, drought-tolerant plant.
R-S Common NameBotanical NameZones
Rock rose, whiteCistus x hybrids8-10
Rose, Betty PriorRosa ‘Betty Prior’5-9
Rose, Graham ThomasRosa ‘Graham Thomas’5-9
Rose, IcebergRosa ‘Iceberg’4-9
Rose, PeaceRosa ‘Peace’5-9
Rose, Pink MeidilandRosa Pink Mediland5-9
ServiceberryAmelanchier alnifolia4-5
SilverberryElaeagnus pungens7-9
Spirea, baby’s breathSpirea thunbergii2-8
Spirea, VanhoutteSpirea x vanhouttei3-8
Spruce, dwarf AlbertaPicea glauca ‘Conica’3-8
Spruce, dwarf NorwayPicea abies ‘Pumila’3-8
Yew, Taxus, Evergreen Shrubs
Yew, Taxus, Evergreen Shrubs
T-Z Common NameBotanical NameZones
Texas rangerLeucophyllum frutescens8-10
Viburnum, arrowwoodViburnum dentatum3-8
Viburnum, compact AmericanViburnum trilobum ‘Alfredo’2-7
Viburnum, sweetViburnum odoratissimum2-7
Yew, Hick’s uprightTaxus x media ‘Hicksii’4-7
Yew, Anglo-JapaneseTaxus x media ‘Densiformis’4-7

Also of interest:

Designing with Shrubs

How to Plant Shrubs

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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