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Caring for Hedges

Popular shrubs for low growing hedges include privet, holly, osmanthus, viburnum, the laurels, taxus, and boxwood. Conifers that are commonly used for tall hedges include thuja, white pine, Leyland cypress, and hemlock. Certain deciduous tree species include hornbeam, beech, and linden.

When hedges are planted to define a property border, it is very important to use a pest-resistant species because it may not be possible to treat infestations without having the treatment drift to the neighbor's property. If the hedge is planted to provide a wind barrier, plant a hardy species that does not desiccate readily. A salt tolerant species is essential where hedges are planted to screen busy roadways in areas where deicing salts are used.

Hedges are usually maintained by shearing, which removes some of the new growth each year. This produces a dense, formal appearance. Shearing also causes interior growth on the plant to be shaded-out and die leaving just a thin shell of live foliage on the exterior portion of the plant. Periodic pruning of the hedge is recommended to thin out the outer shell of foliage to allow light and air to penetrate interior portions of the crown.

Periodic fertilization of hedges is important to maintain health of these plants. However, avoid excessive fertilization that promotes lush growth and increases pruning requirements.

Plants that are hedged are generally more prone to insect pests. They should be monitored carefully throughout the growing season to facilitate early detection of infestations. Treatments should be applied before pests reach damaging levels.

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