Berberis thunbergii 'Cheal's Scarlet'

Plants for a low-maintenance hedge

Short on time? We pick some of the best plants to use to create low-maintenance hedges.

Not all hedges require hours of labour-intensive care. If you choose slow-growing plants that need little pruning, your hedge will almost take care of itself.

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A loose hedge, allowed to flower, is perfect for wildlife gardens but low-maintenance doesn’t have to mean informal, or unkempt. A slow-growing species such as holly can be kept looking neat with light clipping once or twice a year.

To ensure your hedge remains low-maintenance, don’t let it get too high – around 2m high or below is ideal. And avoid plants that tend to grow upwards rather than outward, as they’ll be harder to prune.

More hedging content:

Discover some of the best plants for a low-maintenance hedge, below.


Choisya

Choisya ternata 'Sundance'
Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’

Suitable for growing in full sun or partial shade, choisyas are clothed in evergreen foliage all year and produce citrus-scented flowers in spring and often again in late summer. Simply prune to keep it to the desired shape and size.


Berberis

Berberis thunbergii 'Cheal's Scarlet'
Berberis thunbergii ‘Cheal’s Scarlet’

Slower growing varieties of Berberis thunbergii make spectacular, colourful hedges. Consider Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea – it has purple foliage, clusters of yellow spring flowers and glossy red berries in autumn and winter. Prune lightly to keep it within bounds.


Holly

Ilex aquifolium 'Argentea Marginata'
Ilex aquifolium ‘Argentea Marginata’

Native holly makes a fantastic hedging plant. The foliage is evergreen and depending on the variety you choose is deep, glossy green or variegated and brighter. Slow-growing, so doesn’t require lots of time spent pruning.


Osmanthus

Osmanthus delavayi
Osmanthus delavayi

Both Osmanthus delavayi and Osmanthus burkwoodii are good choices for low-maintenance hedges. Both are slow-growing evergreens with fragrant white flowers in spring and will grow in sun or partial shade.


Yew

Yew hedge
Yew hedge

A tough and relatively slow-growing plant, yew is rarely troubled by pests and diseases and provides dark green, year-round foliage. When planting yew, be sure to provide ample drainage as yew hates wet feet.


Cryptomeria ‘Globosa Nana’

Cryptomeria japonica 'Globosa Nana'
Cryptomeria japonica ‘Globosa Nana’
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‘Globosa Nana’ is a slow-growing, dwarf cultivar of Cryptomeria japonica that makes an attractive evergreen hedge. Little pruning is required. Best grown with a bit of shade to get the richest colour, in reliably moist, well-drained soil.