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Planting hedges

Hedges add natural beauty and keep the nosy neighbors from spying on you

Hedges are quite useful in the landscape. They can provide privacy, hide an unpleasant view, trap snow, and provide habitat for wildlife. Spring is the best time to plant a hedge.

Richard Jauron is an extension horticulture specialist at Iowa State University. He says the main consideration when choosing plants for the hedge is how tall do you want them to get?

"If you want a hedge that grows 5-feet tall, don’t plant something that’s going to get 10-feet tall. And also check to see what you want as far as do you want these plants to have some ornamental characteristic? For example would you like to have flowers like lilacs? Or maybe the nice red twigs on the red twig dogwoods in winter," says Jauron.

Also consider the effect you’re after. A deciduous hedge includes lilacs and dogwood, but the plants lose their leaves in the fall. If you want a hedge that offers a wall of green year-round, choose an evergreen such as arborvitae.

Jauron says how you space the plants when they go into the ground depends on how big they will eventually get.

"As far as the hedge is concerned, we want those to grow together so it becomes one. It looks like one big planting, so they have to be fairly close together," he says. "For example if you’re planting something that grows maybe 10-feet tall, we’re going to space those about 5-6-feet apart so they grow together."

Put wooden stakes in the ground at each end and tie a string between them. This will help you create a straight row. If you have a large amount of space, consider making a double or triple row. So you know where to dig the holes, put flags or some other kind of markers evenly spaced apart.

After a few seasons, you might have to do some clipping and trimming to maintain the hedge’s natural shape and design.

Learn more:

Best plants for hedges

How to plant a privacy hedge

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