The Urban Hedge

The RHS campaign (“Greening Grey Britain”) is having an impact, not least on the urban hedge…
Launched to encourage the “transformation of hard grey areas into living, planted places that enrich lives”, the RHS has got many people thinking and, round our way at least, has led to a noticeable increase in enquiries about what sort of hedge might be planted to help the cause, especially in their front garden which, after all, is more likely to have been concreted over to create a mini car park. We considered this back in April (click here), but it is worth revisiting, not least because many of the subsequent enquiries have been from owners whose front gardens are irredeemably tarmacked or who do not have the option of off-street parking.
So, if you can’t plant a hedge into the ground, what can you do? The answer is simple and obvious – tubs and containers. We’ll be looking at options in more detail in subsequent posts but we first need to make a few general points:
• Remember that large tubs, once filled, will be heavy – possibly too heavy to move. So, before you buy your containers, never mind fill them, decide whether they are permanent fixtures or whether they need to be moveable
• Unfortunately, when it comes to a front garden, you do need to consider the possibility of theft. Thieves, of course, are far more interested in the contents of your shed but, occasionally, an easily taken small container may prove irresistible to a light-fingered passer-by. It’s a judgement call that only you can make
We have received a few enquiries about air quality in built up areas and whether this affects the choice of hedging plants. It’s only in the middle of large towns and cities that pollution levels are significantly higher but rest assured – there is no variety of hedging plant that can’t cope with the worst British pollution can throw at it. The classic hedge, from Yew to Privet, Beech to Hornbeam as well as modern favourites like Lonicera nitida ‘Baggesen’s Gold’ AGM, Photinia Red Robin (Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’) or Escallonia macrantha rubra are all equally at home in town or country; in the ground or in a container.
Incidentally – in this context, urban is not restricted to cities and towns but refers to any built environment. A front garden in a village can as easily be paved to create car parking space as one in the middle of a London Borough and so equally in need of some green TLC..