A tightly clipped, linear hedge with super-sharp edges can be a thing of beauty, but it’s not always the best option. Looser hedging, with a softer appearance, might better suit a wildlife-friendly scheme or an informal cottage garden. Or a low-growing lavender hedge could be just the thing for defining the edges of a path or marking a boundary.
More on growing hedges:
- Plants for a formal hedge
- Plants for a low-maintenance hedge
- Fast-growing hedges
- How to put hedge trimmings to good use (video)
In addition to their aesthetic appeal, informal hedges can save you time, too. Giving a hedge fewer haircuts will free up more of your gardening time for other things (although the amount of time saved will depend on the plants you choose).
Discover some of the best plants for an informal hedge, below.
Flowering currants like Ribes sanguineum (dark-pink flowers), Ribes aureum (yellow flowers) and Ribes x beatonii make fabulous hedging plants. Use one type of currant singly or try mixing them in with other hedging plants like elder and hawthorn.
Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus'
Planted in a row, Miscanthus 'Gracillimus' makes a fine hedge. This cultivar has particularly thin leaves, giving each plant a spectacular billowing, fountain-like appearance. Plant in a spot where the hedge is afforded a depth of around 1m. Throughout spring and summer it'll provide green foliage, followed by red-purple flowers in autumn.
When in full bloom, a hydrangea hedge is a sight to behold. In winter, the faded flowerheads look beautiful covered with frost, or dried and displayed indoors. Limelight hydrangea and 'Annabelle' are popular picks for hydrangea hedges, but there are lots of beautiful panicle, mophead and lacecap hydrangeas to pick from.
Flowering for months on end, potentillas grow well in sun or partial shade, providing riotous colour. Bees love the flowers and there are lots of colours to choose from, including 'Elizabeth' for yellow flowers, 'Abbottswood' for white, 'Red Ace' for red and 'Tangerine' for orange.
Depending on the setting, a lavender hedge can be bring a formal or informal touch. As you brush you can enjoy the aroma, while pollinating insects will enjoy the pollen and nectar provided by the flowers. Depending on the variety you go for, your lavender hedge could be white- or pink-flowered. Find out how to summer prune your lavender hedges.
Containing a mix of trees and shrubs native to the UK, these hedges are a tapestry of colour at their best and a real boon to wildlife, providing shelter, berries, flowers and food plants. Plants to grow in yours include hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel, dog rose and field maple. Once established, you can grow climbers like honeysuckle and ivy through them.