Hedge Guide

Tips for installing and maintaining a hedge.

Some of the information found here can also be found on the CSU Extension service website located here in Colorado.

Hedges have been a part of landscapes since the beginning of landscaping. Whether you are planting for a privacy screens, a separator/barrier, or for simply ornamental reasons, there are lots of plants to choose from. Use this guide to make your hedge install go as smoothly as possible.

Plant Choice

Selecting the proper plant for a hedge is important. For a formal hedge you should select plants that are uniform in size and overall shape and is characterized by repetition of the same plant and is kept in shape and in bounds by pruning. While informal hedges use a variety of plants and plant sizes. The mix of plants used can include both evergreen and deciduous (flowering and non-flowering) varieties. When deciding which type, consider the amount of maintenance you are willing or able to provide.

Consider the following:

  • Planting location
  • Area's exposure
  • Room for growth
  • Flowering, Deciduous, or Evergreen
  • Moisture conditions
  • How long you want to wait before the hedge is effective.

Depending on the shrubs or trees you choose the hedge can be formal or informal, evergreen or deciduous, and less-expensive or more-expensive. It is very important when starting your hedge to ask how long small shrubs will take to fill in to become the hedge you want. If you start small then you will save money while sacrificing time.

Installation and Spacing

When planting spacing is important for a couple of reasons. You want to make sure they will eventually touch so pay attention to the height and width. You should also be sure to ask how long it will take to reach those mature sizes. It is typically to space the plants closer than the mature size so they will grow into one another and create a more dense hedge while accomplishing the task in less time. This is especially important for hedges that are sheared or formal kept. When planting a hedge drip irrigation is very important as you want consistent growth.


Your hedge is going to either be a formal pruned hedge or and informal unpruned hedge. If you are wanting a formal look it is important to prune regularly. If you skip years your hedge will become out of control and it can take years to repair. If you hedge gets too large or has not be maintained you will need to do a heavy pruning. This will be a major pruning and in most cases should occur in the fall. The plant will need time to rebuild but it will look much better and be healthier for it.

Hedge Maintenance and Pruning