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Grow with KARE: Our favorite hedges

Whether it's for privacy or to define a space, a good hedge can look amazing. Bobby and Laura have a few favorites to suggest.

CHASKA, Minn. — There’s a lot of different reasons to grow a hedge. Sometimes it’s for privacy, other times its just to define a space. But whatever reason you may have, the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is a great place to view a large collections of various hedges. This gives you a sense of what shrubs and even specific varieties of shrubs will grow well and give you the look you want in the end.

Hedges can be formal or informal. Formal hedges are pruned, often into a square or rounded shape. Informal hedges are either not pruned or very minimally pruned to let the shrub take its natural shape.

Hedges can also be evergreen or deciduous. To be honest, Bobby and I had a hard time finding an evergreen shrub to promote. Many were sparse, winter-burned or unhealthy. But we did find some with winter interest.

The dogwoods, both yellow twig and the common red twig dogwoods made beautiful informal hedges. The brightly colored wood of the shrubs make for winter interest even after the leaves fall.

Another informal option, my personal favorite was the currants. Blueberries would make a good one as well. I love the idea of incorporating edibles into traditional landscape. And if you’ve never had currant pie… it’s a must. One of my childhood favorites. Both the currants and blueberries are shorter than other shrubs as well so they make a good option for defining a space more than providing privacy.

The Korean lilacs caught Bobby’s eye as an informal option. They grow thick and dense to provide great privacy. Plus the smell of lilacs in the spring can’t be beat. This particular variety doesn’t end up as large as other lilac species.

For a formal option, Bobby and I were both taken aback by the viburnums. Several varieties took well to the pruning to provide and very dense formal hedge. It did seem that the pruning prevented the shrubs from blooming, although there were a couple isolated flower buds.

Another formal option that surprised us was honeysuckle.

Regardless of what shrub you choose or if you wish the hedge to be formal or informal, plant your choice closer than the recommended planting distance to establish a solid hedge rather than a row of shrubs.

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