Hedges - Green Living Walls


Decorative and practical, hedges make magnificent living walls and can be used in a variety of ways when landscaping your garden...

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Using Hedges in Your Garden Landscaping Layout

For centuries, in a quest for privacy, man has erected enclosures around his dwellings. The Romans were the first to use plant material, such as box and laurel, around their villas, in preference to stone walls. This idea spread quickly and hedges have been used throughout the world ever since.

Landscapers as well as home gardeners have long been inspired to include these magnificent living walls in their gardens, for aside from being extremely decorative, they also serve a number of practical purposes.

Hedges have numerous landscaping uses. Tall hedges can be planted to create privacy and security, to reduce the effect of strong winds or to dampen urban noise while lower hedges can hide unsightly areas or divide up the garden and provide interest. Very low hedges are used to define pathways, borders, herb gardens and vegetable gardens and are an essential element in the formal garden.

Types of hedges

The type of hedge you wish to grow will determine what plant material will be the most suitable, so bear in mind the size of the area where the hedge is to be established as well as the style of the house and garden.

Formal, clipped hedges generally take up less space but they require a lot of maintenance and need to be trimmed regularly if they are to form a lush, living wall. A well maintained formal hedge should be dense at the base.  To achieve this, the plants should initially be trimmed low to encourage thick, bushy basal growth. Once this has been achieved, the hedge can gradually be trimmed higher. A well kept formal hedge is wider at the base than at the top. This encourages better basal leaf growth as the lower parts of the hedge will receive good light.

Informal hedges have a few advantages over trimmed formal hedges in that they only need occasional tidying up so are far less time consuming to maintain. They also tend to be more colourful as they grow naturally and the flowers or berries they produce are left on the plants. They do take up more space however and are not suitable for areas that have a geometric design.

Ensure that the plants you have chosen for your hedge are suitable for the climate in your area and care for them as per the particular variety's requirements.

Plants for high hedges

  • Carissa macrocarpa (Amatangulu): a thorny shrub with glossy dark green leaves, pretty star shaped flowers and red fruit, forms an outstanding impenetrable hedge. Can be pruned or left to grow naturally.
  • Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey cypress): makes a sturdy, evergreen hedge which can be trimmed to formal shape. Excellent as a wind break.Hibiscus rosa sinensis (Hibiscus): makes a particularly fine hedge in larger gardens and will flower abundantly from spring to autumn, even if it is kept clipped.
  • Pyracantha coccinea (Firethorn): a sturdy, impenetrable hedge that produces masses of scarlet berries in autumn. Can be pruned or left unpruned.

Plants for medium hedges

  • Abelia grandiflora (Abelia): is a lovely, profusely flowering shrub with green or purplish foliage that looks good as a formal or informal hedge.
  • Buxus sempervirens (English Box): this traditional, evergreen hedging plant has glossy dark green leaves and forms a beautiful, dense, clipped hedge.
  • Plumbago auriculata (Cape leadwort): makes a lovely formal or informal hedge. This fast growing shrub is covered with masses of sky blue flowers in summer but will flower less profusely if kept trimmed.
  • Duranta plumieri (Golden dewdrop): can be trimmed as low as 1m. If left to grow naturally, graceful stems of lavender or white flowers will appear in late spring and summer.

Plants for low hedges

  • Buxus sempervirens suffruticosa (Edging box): this is the dwarf variety that makes perfect formal hedges of 30cm high. Use as an edging for pathways, flower beds and herb gardens.
  • Lavendula dentata (French lavender): there are few plants that are as attractive as lavender when used as a low hedge. Clipped or unclipped, these hardy plants always look lovely.
  • Portulacaria afra (Spekboom): grows in the most arid conditions and withstands severe frost. Makes a neat, compact hedge when trimmed.
  • Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary): can be relied upon to form a lovely informal hedge of about 65cm and also looks really charming when trimmed down to about 30cm.

Questions and comments

 

The questions/comments section has been closed as of 1 Sept 2015

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Aug 30 2015, 09:20 AM
Denise Haagner
Good day. I live on a farm which is down in a valley in the Potchefstroom area. We have experienced temperatures as low as minus 9. What can I use as a fast growing hedge which reaches a height of at least two metres. Thanks for your help
Aug 30 2015, 08:22 PM
Rod
I suggest that you consider Buddleja saligna or Buddleja salvifolia. These are sometimes used as trees but lend themselves well to trimming into a hedge form. They are fast growing. If a true hedge to 2m or more is what you prefer then pehaps Tecoma capensis (Cape Honeysuckle) or Plumbago auriculata (Cape Leadwort) could be considered. Freylinea tropica (Honeybell Bush) or Plumbago Royal Cape are suitable but perhaps to a miximum height of 1.5m. Rhus crenata (Dune Crowberry) is a very attractive and dense hedge, which can easily be boxed but it tolerates light frost - which might mean that heavy frost would damage some foliage, and you would need to wait for it to recover. Please Google these suggestions before making your choice. Also talk with your local retail nursery buyers to get their advice based on local conditions.

http://growwild.co.za/blog/top-5-indigenous-frost-hardy-shrubs
Aug 24 2015, 08:47 AM
Jade
Hi there,
We are based in Jhb, and are looking for a fast growing cover for our walls,
They can be trees or hedges (+-1.5 -2m), flowering or non,
The main thing is that they are evergreen, sturdy, fast growing and relatively low maintenance
Any advice would be hugely helpful. Thank you!
Aug 24 2015, 04:52 PM
Rod
If the maximum height is say 2m, then probably trees would not be appropriate, though one can trim certain trees into a boxed hedge shape. See the first link below for a website which has a picture of a False Olive (Buddleja saligna) which has been beautifully boxed. There is a wide range of shrubs which could fit the bill. Below is a brief list of some of my own preferences, but you should Google them to view pictures and detailed characteristics. (1) Victoria Rosemary (Westringia) blue or white (2) Sweet Viburnum (Viburnum sinensis) or V. tinus lucidum (my preferred Viburnum) (3) Cape Leadwort blue (Plumbago Royal Cape) (4) Dune Crowberry (Rhus crenata) (5) Cape Honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis) (6) Orange Jasmine (Murraya exotica). Do go and chat to staff at your closest retails nurseries and see if they perhaps have others to suggest. You could perhaps also consider Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) if you are prepared to provide a little climbing assistance up the wall for this wonderful creeper. If you want fast cover and a self-clinging creeper/climber, then consider Tickey Creeper (Ficus pumila) or Ivy (Hedera helix).

http://www.groundedlandscaping.co.za/how-to-landscape/top-10-trees-to-plant-in-a-small-garden
Aug 04 2015, 10:12 AM
Sheila
Hi ,

I have an existing hedge of Ligustrum Ibota ( very small leaf ) that is growing in my Constantia.garden.
Part of it is in sun , part of it is in shade . it was slow to start , but is great now as a solid dark green hedge. .
I want to plant more hedging ( not near the existing hedge ) in a shady area .
The local Nursery suggested that I dont plant Ligustrum , but plant V iburnum Sinensis ( which is oposite to what you are saying about Viburnum. You suggest V Tinus for shade . I admit, I am confused !
I would prefer a dark green hedge, so do you think Ligustrum Ibota or a Viburnum .? Which of the Viburnums ?

Thank you so much! Sheila
Aug 13 2015, 12:41 PM
Rod
Since retail nurseries are selling Ligustrum ibota, I assume it is not a declared invasive plant. Some other Privets are indeed considered to be invasive. Ligustrum ibota does best in full sun or semi shade, so that is probably why your nursery is recommending something else for your more shady area. The Sweet Viburnum (V. sinensis) does not have dark green leaves, it has largish plain green leaves. So it would not satisfy your requirements. V. tinus lucidum (the one you'll most likely find at retail nurseries) has smaller dark green leaves, and is said to grow in shade. There are quite a number of Viburnum varieties and certainly V. sinensis one sees mostly in full or partial shade around Cape Town. So I'd go with V. tinus lucidum.
Aug 13 2015, 02:25 PM
Scott
Hi Rod, I agree with you while another consideration is v.tinus 'compacta', depending ultimately on the height of the hedge. This is as the name suggests a more close knit compact form. Its ideal for hedging and makes for a very clean and neat look.
Jan 18 2015, 10:04 PM
Anonymous
Hi, we live in Ceres Western Cape, extreme temperatures. I am looking for a tall fast growing hedge for privacy and to cover a vibracrete wall. I am considering Viburnum Sinensis?
Jan 10 2015, 08:28 PM
Peter
Good day, we would like to plant a indigenous tree that forms a hedge.It will be at Theewaterskloof dam(villiersdorp).Evergreen, no thorn trees, flowers if possible.There is about half a meter for the hedge to bush forward, height is not a problem.(windbreaker)Any advice you can offer would be appreciated.Thank you Peter
Jan 12 2015, 10:42 AM
Rod
For starters, you might want to scroll down from here and read my Response to a Question from Geoff, who interestingly also lives in Theewaterskloof and wanted a windbreaking hedge. I suggested several suitable hedges for him to consider. I'd say that half a meter for any tree to bush out is very limiting, so I'd recommend that you go for a typical hedge rather than a tree. But you could choose something like a Buddleja saligna (False Olive) and then just keep it trimmed to restrict its width. Other trees for consideration would be the hardy Wild Olive (Olea africana) and the Coastal Silver Oak (Brachylaena discolor) but it does not have flowers, just pretty foliage. You can also go to the eGardens Library section and look at the article about landscaping with trees. If you scroll down there you will find quite a few Responses from me to Questions from people wanting trees for windbreaks. If you definitely want trees rather than a hedge, you'll most likely find other suggested suitable trees there.
Jan 13 2015, 03:21 PM
peter
Hi Rod, firstly thanks for your response..I`m not sold on a tree, just really uninformed, thought a tree would be best for height and windbreak, a hedge can work as well.If you can suggest a hedge that is quick growing, poss evergreen, even one that flowers would be awesome.Really have no idea what would work, therefore asking the experts..Thanks again..Ps. where in villiersdorp/area would you recommend to buy the hedge/plants
Jan 14 2015, 10:00 AM
Rod
I'd stick with one of the hedges I mentioned to Geoff below. My first choice would be the blue flowering Victoria Rosemary (Westringia fruticosa). Second choice would be the Sweet Viburnum (Viburnum sinensis) - white flowers. And third choice the Dune Crowberry (Rhus crenata) - no flowers though. All of these can be kept pruned/trimmed to an appropriate width. My friend from my wholesale nursery days I think still has a wholesale growing operation at Genadendal which is within reach of where you live - Mike and Rosie Taylor at Willowbank Nursery. I know he always stocked the above plants. Tel 028-2549729 or 083-3091380, and do mention my name to him. He'd also be able to advise you on other windbreak shrubs. Failing that, you'd find all the above shrubs in retail nurseries around Stellenbosch or Somerset West. Tulbagh Bosbou Nursery outside Tulbagh is very cheap and well stocked but you'd need to drive there and fetch the shrubs yourself. Tel 023-2300694.
Nov 22 2014, 06:03 PM
Neil
Hi, we want to plant a row of hedge trees in fairly large pots that will grow 4-6 meters and can be pleached or pruned. It has to be fast growing and retain its leaves in winter. Any suggestions or advice will be appreciated.
Nov 24 2014, 04:28 PM
Rod
Well, I must thank you for a VERY interesting Question! I confess I had never before heard of "pleaching" but have seen "espalliering". Researching on the Internet, it seems that the most common subject trees for pleaching are the Common Lime (Tillia europeaea), Beech (Fagus sylvatica) and Hornbeam - overseas though. Don't know if any of those specific varieties are available locally though. So in my mind I've rather been going through trees which one can definitely find locally and are evergreen, and are said to be amenable to container planting, plus not too large in size. The following came to mind : (1) White Pear (Apodytes dimidiata) (2) Bladder Nut (Diospyros whyteana) (3) Wild Olive (Olea aficana) (4) Leyland Cypress (Cupressus leylandii) (5) Lime (Tillea europeaea) - not sure about this one's local availability. I've seen the White Pear and Bladder Nut with straight stems. The Wild Olive is said to have a crooked stem, but it would have character - but it's slow growing. The Leyland Cypress generally has a straight stem and is fast growing. Another tree said to be good for pleaching is the Magnolia Tree (Magnolia grandiflora) but it's probably way too big for your purposes. The Common Lime is similarly too big. But as an out-of-the-box suggestion, what about one of the edible Lemon or Lime varieties? They are evergreen and bear edible fruit, and my gut feel is that they would look good when pleached. I am providing two links below for my own (with zero experience!) choices :

http://treeco-treeco.blogspot.com/2012/03/apodytes-dimidiata-white-pear.html

http://treeco-treeco.blogspot.com/2009/02/diospyros-whyteana-bladder-nut.html
Nov 24 2014, 08:16 PM
Neil
Thank you Rod. What a truly comprehensive and helpful answer. Yeah must say pleaching is rather interesting but not knowing anything about trees I am grateful for your input. I will read through and keep you posted!
Oct 13 2014, 02:17 PM
Phyl
I am a horse-rider and am looking to plant a hedge to use as a jump - max 1m in height, must not be poisonous or have thorns.
I also need a fast growing, attractive, dense hedge not for security only as a screen 50m long, 2m+ in height - space is not an issue, half of it will be planted in full shade under fir (Christmas trees). What would you suggest?
Location Johannesburg
Oct 14 2014, 11:41 AM
Rod
I imagine that your hedge to be used as a jump would be sort of formal, clipped into a box shape from time to time. I'd go for either Privet (Ligustrum), Dune Crowberry (Rhus crenata), Victoria Rosemary (Westringia) or Myrtle (Myrtus microphylla), in that order of preference. The first three mentioned could grow quite large if allowed, so would have to be kept in check. But they are fairly robust. Your long hedge you would probably want to be informal, not needing to be constantly clipped. And to tolerate both sun and shade. Here I'd go for something like Viburnum, preferably V.tinus or possibly V.sinensis. Privet (if you want the same theme as your jumping hedge) also tolerates shade. Another shade tolerant hedge is Escallonia. There are other pretty informal hedges e.g. Plumbago Royal Cape or Cape Honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis) which would look great in the sun, but would probably not do too well in full shade. Make an extra effort when planting i.e. nice big holes, plenty of good soil mixed with compost, bone meal and water regularly. You might find the area under the fir trees a challenge e.g. very acidic. But handle that if/when you need to. I'm providing a link below which gives many more choices, but you would need to be sure that what you choose is available locally. Do Google my selections before making your choice.

http://www.hedgesdirect.co.uk/acatalog/Right_Species.html
Oct 05 2014, 11:48 PM
Anonymous
We are looking for a suitable hedge to cover a wall 1.8m high in the North West province and particularly like the Chinese hawthorn because of its red foliage. Could you please advise us on what you think would be best
Oct 07 2014, 11:49 AM
Rod
I do not recall ever coming across the Chinese Hawthorn, though I did often sell the Indian Hawthorn (Raphiolepis) at my wholesale nursery prior to retirement. So I did some Internet research and note that the Chinese Hawthorn is mentioned on various websites under TWO botanical names! : Crataegus pinnatifida and Photinia serrulata. Not sure what the difference is - maybe slightly different varieties or species. But it does seem that the Chinese Hawthorn is quite commonly used as a hedge in Europe, is cold-hardy and has evergreen burgundy foliage (some of the Hawthorns are deciduous). It is mentioned that the Chinese Hawthorn grows quite tall so you would need to keep it trimmed to your desired height of 1.8m. There are other hedge plants that you could use, but if the Chinese Hawthorn appeals to you, and you are able to buy it locally, then I'd suggest you go that route!
Sep 30 2014, 07:02 AM
Ken
I want a shrub to form an informal visual barrier (hedge?) That is fast growing, happy in shade. evergreen, available to plant as a 1.5m high plant. Is there a viburnum that meets these criteria? I am in Cape Town
Oct 01 2014, 04:20 PM
Rod
In my days in the wholesale nursery business I only ever came across three varieties of Viburnum : V. sinensis, V. tinus "Lucidum" and V. tinus "Compactum". Of these, V. sinensis (Sweet Viburnum) was fastest growing, with large plain green leathery leaves. The other two Viburnums, V. tinus "Lucidum" and V. tinus "Compactum" have darker green glossy leaves smaller than those of V. sinensis. V. tinus "Comactum" has smaller leaves than V tinus "Lucidum". To me the flowers of V. tinus are more pretty and abundant, and better set off because of the darker green glossy leaves. V. tinus (both varieties) are said to grow in shady conditions but V. sinensis prefers sunlight, hence would not be the first choice for you. Generally, with shrubs and climbers, the more sun they receive the more flowers they produce. I think this implies that V. sinensis will still grow in reasonable shade but produce few flowers. Your best bet (and cheapest) for procuring tallish specimens would be to contact either Trees and Hedges in Hout Bay or Habitat Tree Nursery out Somerset West way (see link below). The two other links describe the above Viburnums in more detail. There are MANY more varieties of Viburnum worldwide (some specifically for shade) but there is no point in mentioning them if they are not available for sale locally.

http://www.plantify.co.uk/Viburnum-tinus-Lucidum/plant-6064

http://www.learn2grow.com/plants/viburnum-tinus-compactum/

http://www.habitattreenursery.co.za/a/12992/shrubs
Sep 28 2014, 07:00 PM
Jacques
6 weeks ago we planted 22 viburnum sinensis plants to shape into a hedge. over the last week I noticed that 4 plants leaves turned yellow hard and falling of. do the have a disease or have we over watered them. We watered them twice a week. can they be saved and how?
Sep 30 2014, 12:40 PM
Rod
If you have time, perhaps go to the following eGardens link which is for the Viburnum sinensis. Then page down and find the Response I gave to a Question from Marilyn Smith who also had a problem with yellowing leaves on her Viburnums. You will see that there are quite a number of possible reasons for yellowing, but I would not give up on those four "non-healthy" Viburnums just yet. Do not over water them, but also ensure that their roots are kept moist. Make sure they are fed, and preferably mulched. See if there is anything specific which stands out related to the location of those four plants e.g. more wind, poorer soil, more wet, closer to swimming pool and chlorinated water etc. Check for any signs of disease on or underneath the leaves. Viburnums are very hardy shrubs and I strongly suspect that they will recover.

http://www.egardens.co.za/landscaping-plant-database/viburnum-sinensis
Sep 30 2014, 01:26 PM
Jacques
Thanks Rod ....I will investigate further.
Sep 25 2014, 06:50 PM
daniel Spangenberg
I want to plant a fast growing hedge and have heard of a hedge which sounds like Hachia...Could be wrong:) Do you know what it is and where it could be found. We live in Somerset West and I hear it is an excellent wind break.
Sep 26 2014, 04:40 PM
Rod
The only hedge I know of, or could find, similar to the name you provided was the Hackea. It is used as a hedge in Australia. Three varieties of Hackea were brought here from Australia in the early 1800s : H.sericea, H.drupacea and H.gibbosa. All have become very serious invaders and are classified as Category 1 (see the link below for information on various plants/trees and their classification). They are said to be "born to burn" and result in fires about five times as hot as the normal fynbos fires, which is very destructive to the natural seed germination process after fynbos fires. So they must be removed wherever they are found on one's property. Another variety H.salicifolia (Hedge Hackea) arrived in about 1900. It is on the proposed list of Category 3 plants, which means that it can be kept (but not planted) PROVIDED it is not withing the 50 year water line of any river/stream. You can Google the above varieties and see if that is indeed what you saw, or were told about. But I would definitely recommend that you look for another type of hedge plant - there are many to choose from.


http://www.plantzafrica.com/miscell/aliens1.htm
Aug 31 2014, 11:17 AM
George N Gray
I need to plant a quick growing hedge which will grow to between 1,5m and 1,8m in height. Length required is +/-15m. I live in Ballito KZN.
Sep 02 2014, 09:25 AM
Rod
You do not mention if you would like your hedge to carry flowers. Nor do you indicate whether it needs to be formal i.e. trimmed to shape. So I will provide a general selection. To start with please scroll down from here, and you will see a good number of my Responses to people wanting me to select hedges for them. My Responses are usually fairly detailed. I imagine that growing conditions in Ballito are excellent, so climate and soil are probably on your side. If you want to promote quick growth of your hedge, make an extra effort when planting it, giving it a large planting hole and every nutrient it would need. Most of the hedges I suggest will need occasional trimming if their height is to stay between 1.5 and 1.8m. If it's just foliage you want, then consider : Sweet Viburnum (Viburnum sinensis) or Dune Crowberry (Rhus crenata - easy to trim). If you'd like flowers, think about : Victoria Rosemary (Westringia fruticosa - white or blue flowers and easy to box), Viburnum French Laurustinus (Viburnum tinus lucidum - sprays of white flowers), Cape Leadwort (Plumbago auriculata - white or blue flowers, but informal), Plumbago Royal Cape - striking blue flowers and the prettiest Cape Leadwort, Cape Honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis - yellow, red, orange or peach flowers, but also informal). I now no longer recommend the Australian Brush Cherry as it is messy, produces many babies and is on the verge of being officially declared invasive. Finally, do Google any of the above hedge plants which seem to appeal to you, and see what they look like before making your choice.
Jul 28 2014, 04:12 PM
Anonymous
Hi there,

I have attached a photo of the planter-box built into my rooftop deck in Woodstock. Within the planter box are containers much like milk-crates, which I estimate to be about 20l each.

A Woodstock roof will get hectic wind in summer.

I would like to have plants that form a low hedge...only 30-40cm high.
I like greener lush looking plants, rather than yellow or pale or greyish leaves. I don't like olive trees, for example.
Planter boxes as shown in the photo are on two sides of my deck. 15 milk-crates to be filled.

Can you make any recommendations for me?

I like Buxus or box edging...although it seems a bit boring. Please advise on suitability and availability.

I like the look of Natal plum or small num num from your photos on the internet. Suitable, available?

I look forward to hearing form you,

Thanks and regards,
Jul 28 2014, 04:16 PM
Rod
You phoned me a little earlier this afternoon. After our conversation I thought of five plants which might be suitable for your situation. They were : Carissa macrocarpa “Green Carpet”, Myrtus communis, Buxus, Westringia fruticosa (rosmariniformis) and Rhus crenata. Based on personal experience as well as some more research I’ve just done for you I have the following comments. The Carissa Green Carpet (Dwarf Num-Num) is known more as a ground cover, though it can be boxed. It might work for you but I have doubts that it would withstand cold strong wind. The leaves might well get wind-burn (turn brown at the tips where they lose too much moisture through evaporation). The Myrtus (Common Myrtle) though very pretty is not known to be highly wind tolerant, but I have seen it growing healthily in quite exposed conditions. It lends itself well to boxing. The Buxus would have the same limitations as the Myrtus. The Westringia (Victoria Coastal Rosemary) is definitely wind tolerant and hardy, and comes in two flower colours : blue and white. In my view the white one would be better for you as it has slightly more dense and darker green leaves than the blue one. It lends itself well to boxing too. And lastly the Rhus (Dune Crowberry). This is a very hardy and wind tolerant shrub with small shiny dark green leaves. It gets flowers and small berries at a certain time of the year, but they are so inconspicuous you would probably not notice them. It can be easily trimmed into a hedge shape. I suggest that you look on the Internet before you make your choice. Do not be concerned if the description tells you that the shrub becomes rather large in size : if you regularly trim it, and its roots have limited space for expansion it will probably stay relatively small. You would probably need to feed your hedge plants quite regularly to promote healthy growth. If I think of any other suitable hedge plants I will let you know.

I will post this reply onto the eGardens Library section under the Hedges article so that others can benefit from the information supplied. I will not mention your name or your other details.

Thank you and regards.
Jul 29 2014, 06:03 PM
Anonymous
Thank you very much for your time and information!
Jul 29 2014, 06:11 PM
Rod
Subsequent to my recommendations above, I also thought of your using Lavender dentata (French Lavender). The best one would be the GREY one, not the green one which does not seem to grow as well in our climate. You did say that you are averse to grey leaves, but French Lavender does have very pretty lilac/purple/blue flowers to offset the grey foliage. And it can easily be boxed plus it is hardy and wind tolerant. Just another option, if it serves......
Jun 18 2014, 04:59 AM
Geoff
Hi. I wish to plant a hedge for a windbreak plus some privacy at our caravan park site at Theewaterskloof. It would need to be hardy as the watering plan would be inconsistent, especially in summer. Please advise the best option?
Jun 18 2014, 11:44 AM
Rod
Since your hedge will serve as a windbreak, you will probably need it to grow to a height of 2-3m. Also, I assume that the hedge you decide on should not impinge too much on any neighbouring caravan site. You will really need to choose between a formal and an informal type of hedge, depending on the "volume" of space the hedge will occupy. A formal hedge can be clipped to restrict its width (and height) ; an informal one would be allowed to expand naturally. You do not specifically mention flowers, so I will assume that flowers are not a necessity. My own choice for an informal hedge would be Plumbago auriculata (Cape Leadwort) or Tecoma capensis (Cape Honeysuckle). For a formal hedge, which may or may not be clipped I'd choose Rhus crenata (Dune Crowberry) or Westringia fruticosa (Victoria Rosemary). All of the above hedges are quite hardy and can tolerate dry conditions. Other hedges one often sees in suburbia are the Syzygium paniculatum (Australian Brush Cherry), which is fast growing, can be neatly clipped but will grow tall if allowed to do so and Viburnum sinensis (Sweet Viburnum), also quite fast growing but more informal. I suggest that you scroll down from here and check my Responses to other hedge-related Questions - you might find useful information there. And finally, many more common shrubs can be grown into hedge form e.g. Carissa macrocarpa (Num-Num) and Hibiscus.
Mar 21 2014, 03:01 PM
Martin Molteno
Hi.
I've just asked about hedges and then read below... I was thinkiong of Carissa Bispinosa but I believe it is quite slow...is the.Aloe arborescens much faster ?? I need the hedge soon and I can't afford to buy or plant a kilometer of already big trees.....

By the way just a comment on sound...(I'm an engineer) You need weight i.e. density x volume. If it grows fast and you prune viciously so it gets very dense then it'll get silent.
Jun 10 2014, 12:54 PM
Rod
I've also heard about the importance of density and volume of a hedge being necessary to properly dampen sound. The added benefit of such characteristics would be to act as a deterrent to intruders. You don't mention if security is also an issue for you, or just control of noise levels. Whatever hedge plant you select, you will still face the problem of sourcing stock, unless you plan to do propagation yourself. You could consider approaching a local grower and see if you can negotiate a reduced rate for small but rooted plants, based on the large number you will need. Try Tulbagh Bosbou Kwekery in the Tulbagh area 023-2300694. If you want security I'd suggest you choose from Cassinopsis ilicifolia (Lemon Thorn), Bougainvillea or one of the Shrub Roses. Carissa is indeed slow-growing immediately after planting, but does grow rapidly once it has established its roots. Aloe arborescens is much faster and has the advantage of being very easy to propagate (just plant a piece into the soil and it will develop roots). If it's noise you wish to limit, then consider Plumbago auriculata (Cape Leadwort), Tecoma capensis (Cape Honeysuckle) or Rhus crenata (Dune Crowberry). The latter group can be left natural rather than being trimmed and will become quite wide and dense. I have suggested shrubs rather than trees. The one tree which is now apparently quite commonly used by farmers, also schools and homeowners as a security screen is Ziziphus mucronata (Buffalo Thorn) but I have certainly not seen it locally - it might also not be dense enough for your purposes. Hope you find something useful in the above...
Mar 21 2014, 02:46 PM
Martin Molteno
Hi
I need about a kilometer of fast growing impenetrable hedge to be planted in the stellenbosch area. (It can have watering if needed because we have an irrigation system)

What is best ??? Fast, thorney, thick, ?
Jun 09 2014, 04:05 PM
Rod
I've finally reached your specific question, after being out of action for nearly two months, building up a BIG backlog in the process - sorry! Hope my reply is not too late to be of use! I'm going to update the question you submitted slightly later than this one, so please look there...
Feb 21 2014, 09:55 AM
Claire
Hello Rod

Thanks for your advice regards our pavement and hedging - sweet viburnum is what you suggested. If possible can you let me know what other plants you suggest. In the mean time I will get the irrigation sorted.

I look forward to ordering our plants for our hedge!

Thanks so much,

Kind Regards
Claire
Feb 26 2014, 11:08 AM
Rod
Having personally visited your house, and heard your own preferences, I suggest you proceed as follows. The outside pavement irrigation system needs to be restored to working condition. The corner of the pavement, the only place where there are no tree roots and there is no shade, should be retained as lawn. This lawn would need regular TLC (water and feeding). The areas under the trees should be cleared of leaves, weeds and unwanted ivy. Thereafter, plenty of Neutrog SeaMungus and Soil&More Reliance should be dug in, in preparation for planting. Now for the nitty gritty of WHAT to plant! For starters, I think you should do a walk/drive around both in Tokai and Constantia and see what pavement plantings appeal to YOU. I'll talk to you about specific places in Constantia. I've reflected on what might work in your situation. For shrubs to hide the wall, you could go for something like the Viburnum sinensis (Sweet Viburnum), which is quick growing or one of the Pittosporum family (garnetii?). Syzygium paniculatum (Australian Brush Cherry) is quite common and very quick growing but you would need to keep it trimmed. As a ground cover I'd suggest one of the Plectranthus (Spurflower) varieties. Maybe Plectranthus madagascariensis, ciliatus, spicatus or verticiliatus which are all low growing. Alternatively use Asystasia gangetica (Wild Foxglove). I'd thought of Hedera (Ivy), Pumila (Tickey Creeper) or Parthenocissus (Virginia Creeper) if you want to cover, rather than hide the wall, but all would require trimming from time to time. You would need to decide on specific shrub or ground cover types before working out how many of each you would need.
Jan 29 2014, 04:41 PM
Naydene
We live in the Klipheuwel area which is around 15km outside of Durbanville in the Cape. Could you suggest a tall hedge plant to provide a wind barrier on one end of a swimming pool, with non invasive roots?
Feb 03 2014, 02:51 PM
Rod
I suggest that you look at the various queries to which I've responded - you'll find them under this response to your question. I mention my favourite hedge plants in several responses. In essence though, you need to first decide if you want an informal, bushy hedge or a more formal one, which can be "boxed". I am aware that Klipheuwel gets quite hot and windy, so that needs to be taken into account. Some suggestions : (1) Informal - Cape Honeysuckle (tecoma capensis), Cape Leadwort (plumbago auriculata) (2) Formal - Dune Crowberry (rhus crenata), Victoria Rosemary (westringia fruticosa) (3) Shrub-like - Sweet Viburnum (viburnum sinensis), Australian Cherry (syzygium paniculatum). The latter should not be planted too close to the pool. Remember to go the extra mile in planting, fertilising and watering to ensure the quickest possible growth!
Nov 26 2013, 10:09 AM
William
Hi Rod

Thanks very much for the helpful article. We live in the Southern Suburbs in Cape Town and our house is situated about 50-70m from the railway line. We would like to grow a hedge to block out some of the noise if possible. There is an existing wall, but its about 1.8m high and not effective in reducing any noise. The hedge would therefore be planted on the inside of the wall and eventually be substantially taller than the wall itself. We would be looking to grow a dense, neat and fast growing hedge of 2.5-3m high which would be effective at blocking out noise. Most grateful for any advice.
Nov 26 2013, 02:35 PM
Rod
I did an Internet search using keywords like "hedge noise" and the name of a possible hedge e.g. "hibiscus". I found a lot of websites, some with pictures of tall hedges. I suggest you do that too before deciding. That said, there were quite a few people who suggested that a tall hedge would not really have a substantial impact on traffic noise. At best it would slightly dampen the noise. I had to discard some of my initial choices for various reasons : Privet - invasive, Myrtus - small, Oleander - messy, Cape Honeysckle and Plumbago - too straggly. I was left with the following, but "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" so your choice will depend on whether you want a flowering hedge or just foliage. First figure is height and second figure is width (average). Dune Crowberry (rhus crenata) 3mX3m, Sweet Viburnum (viburnum sinensis) or Viburnum (viburnum tinus) 4mX4m, Australian Brush Cherry (syzygium paniculatum) 8mX3m or Hibiscus 3mX2m. The Dune Crowberry is very dense and can be beautifully boxed. Same for the Australian Brush Cherry. The Hibiscus can be pruned back after flowering but is not as dense. The Sweet Viburnum can be topped but as with the Hibiscus, it will retain its natural shape. One sees MANY beautifully boxed Australian Brush Cherry hedges in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town. The only other suggestion I offer for consideration is that of extending the top of your wall via a trellis/lattice, then growing a creeper to cover it. Maybe Star Jasmine (trachelospermum jasminoides)? And remember not to plant too close to the wall, especially if you decide on Australian Brush Cherry which can eventually produce a substantial trunk - and this shrub/tree needs its upward growth to be constantly kept in check. Finally, take a drive down Klein Constantia Road, from where it leaves Spaanschemat River Road, look at the Pittosporum garnettii along the wall of the complex on your left about 500m down the road. It's the green/yellow variegated shrub, alternating with Sweet Viburnum - see if that appeals to you. Hope this all helps you!
Oct 29 2013, 09:21 AM
LP
Hello, I live in Port in the Eastern Cape. I am looking for a quick hedging plant and would like to know if honeysuckle is a good choice for a hedge(I want it to grow to 2m). The site is open and often wind battered.
Oct 31 2013, 04:55 PM
Rod
Tecoma capensis (Cape Honeysuckle) is indeed a good choice and it comes in lovely shades of yellow, orange and red. It is fast growing as well as being wind and salt tolerant. Bear in mind that it has an informal bushy shape and therefore does not lend itself well to boxing. Your other choice would be Plumbago auriculata (Cape Leadwort) in white and blue which has similar characteristics to the Cape Honeysuckle.
Oct 06 2013, 06:13 PM
Karen
Hello, we have just bought in a complex, our unit is on the driveway, with car headlights shining into our lounge, we have a 1.2m wall, but would love to plant a fast growing, attractive, dense hedge not for security only as a screen. We live on the Highveld. What would you suggest?
Oct 07 2013, 11:36 AM
Rod
Your hedge will need to be dense in order to block out car headlights. If you prefer to have a periodically flowering hedge, then I recommend Viburnum sinensis (Sweet Viburnum) or Syzygium paniculatum (Australian Brush Cherry). My personal favourite for beautiful deep green dense foliage is Rhus crenata (Dune Crowberry). All the above hedges are evergreen, fast growing and may be trimmed or boxed. Please do a Google search using the botanical name as keyword so that you can see actual pictures before making your choice. You can also obtain more information on spacing when planting. And do go the extra mile in making big planting holes, use plenty of compost and bone meal. Thereafter water and feed regularly. Good luck!
Sep 26 2013, 02:34 PM
Megan
Hi Guys :) Cool site! very helpful and useful :)
I would just like to find out what the best, fastest growing and dense hedge is that does well in the Cape Town climate?
I am planning on buying hedging bushes from Stodels and planting them in my front garden for use as a wind break, and waist high fence:)
I know that its imperative to trim the hedge early so it bulks up and gets more dense, but do you have any recommendations on which variety i should buy?
thanks again :)
Sep 27 2013, 09:06 AM
Rod
You will have seen mention of several different shrubs for medium hedges in the article. But some shrubs lend themselves more to clipping. I've personally has great success here in Cape Town with Westringia fruticosa (Victoria Rosemary) and Rhus crenata (Dune Crowberry). Both were dense and boxed to a height of about 1.5m. And both are wind tolerant and hardy to local conditions. The blue Westringia is a little less dense, while the white one has slightly larger leaves and looks more dense. Both Rhus and Westringia are relatively fast growing especially if extra care is taken when planting. I have also seen hedges of Jasminum multipartitum, Carissa macrocarpa, Plumbago auriculata,Tecoma capensis and Hibiscus but in my view these look better as informal hedges. For a low growing hedge, I've seen lovely boxed Myrtus microphylla and Buxus sempervirens. I would go for white Westringia fruticosa (if you like some flowers) or for Rhus crenata (if it's the lovely leaves that you enjoy). Hope this helps you make a choice!
Aug 23 2013, 03:04 PM
Chris
We have just bought a stand near Senekal in the Free State. We are told that if we put in a fence it will be stolen so we are thinking about a security hedge. I have seen ads for kei apple. Are their alternatives and what would be the fastest growing and what would be the most effective.
Aug 26 2013, 08:55 AM
Rod
I agree that Dovyalis afra (Kei Apple) is one of several good choices. It grows to 4m in sun or semi-shade, at a medium rate. Another possibility is Cassinopsis ilicifolia (Lemon Thorn) which also grows to 4m on average, is found in the eastern Free State and forms an attractive barrier hedge which deters intruders. Then there is Carissa bispinosa (Num-Num), also found in parts of the Free Sate and which grows rapidly but is frost tender. As a wild card, you might want to consider Aloe arborescens (Krantz Aloe). Don't be deceived by the name – I've seen a great looking A.arborescens hedge about 2m high and impenetrable! It's also fast growing. My recommendation would probably be Lemon Thorn or Kei Apple, in that order, and depending on ability to source the plants. It's no doubt a good idea to maximise the deterrent, and at the same time grow an attractive screen. Hope this helps you!
Aug 02 2013, 04:45 PM
Shirley
I am looking for the right plants to grow a fast growing hedge. Which ones would be best suited for a hedge that would be about 2m high?
Aug 05 2013, 05:11 PM
Rod
Dear Shirley : It is unclear from your request as to the purpose of your hedge i.e. intruder barrier, screen from neighbours, encourage birds/butterflies, wind protection etc? Also some shrubs lend themselves to “boxing”, while others are more informal. There is a proliferation of hedges, but I have seen the following hedges to height 2m, very neatly boxed : westringia fruticosa (coastal rosemary/victoria rosemary), rhus crenata (dune crowberry) or buxus sempervirens (english box). If you require an informal, free-growing hedge try : plumbago auriculata (cape leadwort), cape honeysuckle (tecoma capensis). If you want to discourage intruders try : carissa macrocarpa/bispinosa (num-num/amatangulu), portulacaria afra (spekbos) or pyracantha coccinea (firethorn/hawthorn). Any hedge would provide protection from the wind and the above suggested shrubs are all wind-tolerant.

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