How do I Plant a Mixed Hedge?

When planning a mixed hedge, two things must be considered: balance and compatibility.

Balance

Let’s deal with balance first. To explain the simple guidelines, imagine you have just acquired a dining table that will seat 8 and you are now in search of chairs. What will work? Well, you could go for:
8 all the same (obviously – but hardly ‘mixed’)
2 sets of 4
2 sets of 3 and 1 set of 2
1 set of 6 and 1 set of 2
8 all different – the so called ‘Harlequin Set’ and there’s nothing wrong with a Harlequin Hedge’

What won’t work is, for example:
1 set of 5, I set of 2 and 1 on its own
1 set of 3, 2 sets of 2 and 1 on its own

Etc…
Of course, hedging plants don’t come in a fixed format like chairs and they do not grow. But this general rule of numerical symmetry still applies.

We also recommend that in a mixed hedge plants of the same species should be planted at least two-a-breast to avoid it looking like a strange, vegetative zebra!

Compatibility

For a mixed hedge to thrive, all the plants chosen must enjoy your garden’s prevailing conditions created by soil, situation and saturation.

Then growth rate must be considered.  Unless you are extremely patient, you probably don’t want to mix hedging plants in a single hedge that won’t reach your optimum height within more than two, possibly three, seasons of each other. Different growing rates can be compensated by planting larger specimens of slower growing plants.

The website contains all the information you will need to make an informed choice, but here are a few pointers to get you on your way:

Soil

None of our hedging plants are limited to an acidic soil.

Copper Beech requires and Cherry Laurel prefer an alkaline soil, though the latter can cope with a mildly acidic soil.

Beech, Box, Escallonia Macrantha Rubra, Griselinia Littoralis, Hornbeam, Leylandii, Lonicera, Photinia Red Robin, Privet and Yew are happy in either acid or alkaline.

Situation

Leylandii, Photinia Red Robin and Copper Beech require full sun.

Beech, Box, Escallonia Macrantha Rubra, Griselinia Littoralis, Hornbeam, Cherry Laurel, Lonicera, Privet and Yew are happy in any situation from full sun to partial shade.

Escallonia Macrantha Rubra and Griselinia Littoralis both require a degree of shelter.

Saturation

Most hedging plants require good drainage so if your soil is, for example, truly waterlogged (say through heavy clay), your choice of hedging plants is restricted to Hornbeam.

Cherry Laurel, Privet, Copper Beech and Yew all prefer dry soils.

Beech, Box, Escallonia Macrantha Rubra Griselinia, Littoralis, Leylandii, Lonicera and Photinia Red Robin are happy on any soil as long as it is well-drained.

Hopefully, these few notes will have got you thinking about the possibilities of a mixed hedge. If you are still not sure once you’ve come up with your idea, simply e-mail it to us and we can advise from a horticultural perspective.