Natural hedges for your urban home

What you need to know:

Natural hedges break the monotony of brick and mortar but while they add beauty to the landscape, they take work to maintain.

A hedge is a fence or a boundary formed by closely growing bushes or shrubs. There are different hedge types such as fast growing and slow growing types, and flowering and non-flowering hedges.

Hedges are also green walls and can be shaped in any shape such as oval, triangular, round or square shapes. “As long as you can shape the plant, it can make a hedge. If well selected, they can make a beautiful screen in an urban setting where houses are close together but privacy is needed,” Kasoma says.

They are also cheap to fix in case the standing one is old or needs replacement because plants are not costly.

It also depends on the hedge type you desire. “The one that works for a restaurant will be smaller than what is needed for a home,” Kasoma says.

Therefore, before deciding on what to plant as a hedge, Jonathan Kasoma of Eco Design Limited, says you need to be conversant with the plant or tree you are going to use. “That is in line with the maintenance costs, if you desire a thick or light fencing, if they are to grow tall or remain at a low level, and the beauty you desire to achieve. You also need to think about how long you desire to have the hedge because each plant behaves differently. For example, shrubs, with time tend to grow big thus become big bushes thus may have to be uprooted and replaced. Even the climate within which you are growing them matters because some require little water while others needs lots of it, some need lots of soil nutrients. For example, bamboos need a place with lots of water, even when in pots, they need manure and watering because they are heavy feeders and the lack of it causes stunted growth and death,” he highlights.

That said, here are some of the plants that will serve you well

Bougainvillea plant

This plant produces pink or white flowers all year round and makes a great hedge, even in urban settings. While it can be planted alongside a wall, Kasoma says it can also stand on its own. “In that case, put pole at each hole holding the plant or a trellis so that when the plant starts growing, it has support. You also need to ensure the holes are deep enough that you lose no soil that the seedling came with. For a thick hedge, have no more than nine inches between each hole with two rows while a standard hedge will have the same spacing but only one row,” he shares. Kasoma adds that the plant needs fertilisers and watering though the soil must drain well to avoid water logging. When the plants start increasing in height, it is important to train the canes by tying them on the trellis or supports you have availed. “Seeing that they are young, turning them around the trellis might break them. Therefore, tying using sisal is a better option,” he advises.

Bougainvillea and hibiscus hedge

These two plants make a great hedge and Fredrick Kimuli, a gardener says they are planted interchangeably to reap from the beauty each brings. “While bougainvillea is wide spreading with easily twisted branches, hibiscus has woody upright stems that can actually help the bougainvillea stand without adding a trellis. In this instance, the bougainvillea is tied to the hibiscus plants.

Apart from the other maintenance tips, remember to prune the plants after flowering to allow for fuller growth,” he shares. When panted together, place each seedling 18 inches apart from the other.

Bamboo hedge

There are various types and that is a major determining factor when picking the one to create your hedge. Ivan Nkata, a landscaper says fast growing types are ideal because the faster they grow; the faster you achieve your privacy. “Therefore, stay away from clumping varieties but also ensure that they do not take over your garden. That will call for putting a root barrier to ensure the bamboo is confined because their roots are enough to bring forth another plant and before long you will have a bamboo bush,” he shares. Their root system is on the surface, so Nkata says building a structure that is two bricks into the ground and one brick above the ground will do. On the other hand, you can put them in large planters. “However, seeing that they are heavy feeders, you must add fertilizers and water them frequently to ensure they are healthy. Pruning is also necessary to ensure they hedge does not get too thick upwards or have dense undergrowth,” he advises.

Pine tree hedges

They are not just great for timber but also for making a hedge since they are also used for fencing off large chunks of land. However, Kasoma says, to benefit from these in an urban setting, they need to be planting a little too close than when they are being planted for timber. “Plant these six feet apart and ensure they are pruned so they do not grow so tall. Nevertheless, allow them grow a little high as these also act as wind breakers hence protecting buildings from storms,” he shares.

Ashok tree hedge

These lofty looking evergreen trees are an amazing hedge because inasmuch as they can grow as high as 20 meters, their roots grow downwards thanks to their conical shape. That way, one does not worry about the effects of the root system. “With leaves starting a good distance above the ground, planting them as close as two inches apart in two rows, one will achieve a great hedge. While they need no pruning because of the shape, they need watering in the morning and fertilizers for a healthy look,” Kimuli shares.

However to achieve the best results, Kasoma says a homeowner needs to work with a professional gardener to help choose the right hedge type for the project. “Moreover, maintenance is important for a beautiful hedge. This also helps to maintain its long as some require pruning, spraying from pests, adding manure in areas where the soil is not that good, watering, more so in the dry season,” he says.

Unlike concrete fences, one can incorporate concrete and plants to bring out the beauty. “For example, you could raise a concrete fence to a certain height (no higher than a child or 2ft-3ft) then on top, put planters in which you are going to grow these hedges simply because you want a cool environment devoid of total concrete barriers. This is done in areas, which are open and used for relaxing yet you need to block the prying eye,” Kasoma adds.

Hibiscus plants

Although known as a medicinal plant, hibiscus also makes a great hedge because it can be pruned. “Averagely, they grow up to five to six feet, however, the flowering plant found in maroon, white and pink flowers can shoot up to 15 feet, creating a colourful hedge. For a healthy hedge, make sure the plants receive ample sunshine, water then on a weekly basis and add some fertilisers in the soil. It is also important to cut off the leggy plants for a tidy look,” he advises. Usually affected by pests, it is important to look out for these regularly and if any, spray neem oil as well as cutting off diseased branches (those with yellow stained leaves),” he advises.