If you're thinking of creating a hedge row as a part of your landscape design, don't be roped into thinking that boxwood shrubs are your only choice. While boxwood shrubs do create pristine-looking hedges, they require frequent shearing to keep them presentable -- and they don't have a lot of color or unique character. If you think you'd prefer a shrub that's lower maintenance or has a more casual, less rigid look, here are several alternatives to consider.
Abelia will create a nice looking hedge whether or not you prune it regularly. Leave it alone, and it will develop an arched, casual appearance, reaching about 6 - 10 feet in height. Prune it, and you can convince it to take on a more clean-cut, boxy shape. The main calling card of this shrub is its unique, showy flowers. Shaped like tiny trumpets, the white blooms are present on the plant from spring until fall, creating a nice contrast to the shrub's reddish foliage.
Abelia shrubs are easy to plant and care for. They require full to partial sunlight and prefer fertile soil, but they will grow in most any soil type.
Also known as red barberry, this compact shrub reaches between 2 and 8 feet in height when mature. It is named for its bright red berries, which appear on the plant in the late summer and add interest to the shrub. There are a number of varieties of Japanese barberry, and they have flowers of various colors, including yellow, red and violet.
Japanese barberry should be pruned annually to keep it in good health, but it does not require frequent shearing to maintain a tidy shape. It's a good choice if you have a lot of deer in your area, as it is unappealing to them and won't be eaten. Japanese barberry plants do have thorns, so they may not be the best choice for homes with children.
Some types of holly grow into beautiful hedges. Try planting Shamrock inkberry holly if you want to create a short hedge; it will reach about 5 feet in height. A variety known as Ilex x aquipernyi is a good choice if you're hoping to grow a taller privacy hedge. The deep green leaves of holly, along with its red berries, make for a very attractive appearance.
Regardless of which type of holly you choose, be aware that it will require careful care when it is young. Watering the hedges for 20 minutes three times per week while they are young is important to ensure they become well established; mulching around the plants is also important. Holly should be trimmed to keep it looking neat, but this only needs to be done every few months.
Several medium-sized juniper varieties make for beautiful, low-maintenance hedges. Nick's Compact is a variety that reaches about 2.5 feet in height, and Sea Green is a slightly larger variety that grows to 4 - 6 feet tall. If you prefer a juniper with a lighter color, Grey Owl has a gray-green color and grows to 5 feet tall.
A juniper hedge is a great choice if you live in a dry environment, as they are very tolerant of droughts and won't need to be irrigated as heavily as many other shrubs. Their soft foliage gives them a very inviting, cozy appearance. Some types of junipers need to be trimmed more often than others, so talk to your landscaping professional regarding the trimming requirements for the variety you choose.
Hedges can add a lot of beauty to your landscape, and they don't have to take up all of your time, either. Choose one of the shrub varieties above, and you can look forward to beautiful hedges and a lot less work.
Contact a business like Northern Virginia Tree Experts, Inc. if you have specific questions about greenery that suits your climate and yard.