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GardenSMART :: Hedges for Small Spaces

Hedges for Small Spaces

By Stephanie Pratt, InstantHedge
Photographs courtesy of InstantHedge

Landscaping a small space is a special challenge. They often require extra privacy since a small yard typically means close proximity to neighbors, but there simply isn't much room for screening plants.

This is where hedges come in. They can essentially be grown as tall as needed (5, 10, 20 feet tall even) while being kept very narrow to avoid wasting precious space. They can even be grown in planters on patios and balconies.

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Some hedge types grow very tall and narrow naturally, while others can be pruned to keep them that way. Here are some of the top choices for hedges to provide privacy and screening in small garden spaces:

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Portuguese Laurel (Prunus lusitanica) is a wonderful evergreen hedge for warmer regions (Zones 6b-9). It grows well in coastal areas as it is salt and heat tolerant. It is the densest of the different types of cherry laurels, and can be easily clipped to maintain a narrow, formal hedge, while still achieving significant height (10-15' easily). The white flowers in spring are an added bonus! Portuguese laurel grows best in full sun and is deer-resistant.

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European Beech (Fagus sylvatica) is a classic choice with a nice seasonal color change. It is technically deciduous, but it holds its copper-colored leaves through winter, providing privacy all year. It is easy to keep it quite narrow by pruning hard in winter when dormant, and can reach heights of 10-20'. It has good cold-hardiness as well (Zones 5-8), making it versatile for growing in many regions. European beech grows well in full sun and nearly full shade.

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Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas) is a unique hedge with beautiful red fruit that is attractive to birds and has culinary use! It is deciduous. It starts the season with glowing yellow flowers in late winter, followed by lush green leaves and fruit ripening by late summer. It is easy to keep narrow by pruning in winter when dormant. It can be grown up to 15' tall for great privacy. It grows in USDA Zones 5-8. Cornelian cherry grows in full sun to partial shade.

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Hicks Yew (Taxus x media 'Hicksii') has an extremely narrow growth habit naturally, so it requires very little pruning to maintain at a tall and narrow size. It grows slowly, so you might consider planting it in a raised planter to add more immediate height. Yew is also one of the best hedges to grow in full shade. It is evergreen with dark, attractive foliage. It grows in USDA Zones 5-8.

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Emerald Green Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd') is another evergreen hedge option with a naturally tall and narrow shape. It grows much slower than other arborvitae types, requiring very little pruning. It has brilliant green foliage all year. It prefers full sun conditions and has great cold hardiness (Zones 2-8).


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