Hedging for a Formal Setting

Formal hedge plants (used for the hedges that look well tended with straight edges...) can be deciduous or evergreen. Some deciduous hedge plants hold their leaves (albeit dead) through some or all of the winter. This formal hedgingkind of hedging has the same attractions in terms of privacy that evergreen hedging does. However if wind protection is a consideration, then hedge plants that drop their leaves tend to make better windbreaks than evergreen/brown hedges as they reduce wind flow rather than block it entirely (which causes turbulence around the hedge). However hedging clothed in leaves (whether they are green or brown) looks less bleak.

Click on the highlighted formal hedge plant names in the lists below to go to the relevant shopping page on this site where you will find more information about each, including pictures and any specific planting instructions together with the sizes we stock and their prices.

Beech, Green.

Green Beech makes an outstanding formal hedge that has beautiful foliage in spring which turns a warm golden brown by late autumn and then is held through the winter.

Copper Beech (or Purple Beech).

Identical hedging in all respects to green beech except for the leaf colour, which is almost pink in spring, darkening through burnished copper to purple. Copper beech looks good when mixed in the same hedge as green beech.

Box, Common.

Common Box is slow growing so best for smaller evergreen hedges of 30+ cms (although it can grow to several feet in height) and as a formal hedge plant in herb gardens and rose borders. Shadeand dry soil tolerant.

Cypress, False or Lawsons.

The thinking person's Leylandii. If you need a hedge ina hurry, this is a fast growing evergreen hedging conifer, much darker in colour and a bit more forgiving of mistakes than leylandii when being trimmed as a hedge. We don't promise, but you neighbour is less likely to be upset by a Lawsonia hedge than you know what...For a formal hedge clip in early spring and early autumn.


Evergreen hedging with familiar prickly leaves that grows almost anywhere, looks good at Christmas and adds a measure of security. Works well mixed in a hedge with Cherry Laurel. Holly comes green or variegated.

Holm Oak.

Sometimes called Holly Oak. This is a cross between an oak and a holly. Not very prickly, clips really well, tough as old boots, wonderful in windy spots and by the sea and makes a fantastic evergreen hedge.


Deciduous and a very similar hedging plant to beech but hornbeam is better on heavy soils that drain badly and makes an outstanding formal hedge in the shade.

Cherry Laurel, or Common Laurel.

Cherry Laurel is an evergreen hedge plant, larger leaved and a lighter green than its cousin below. The best hedging to reduce traffic noise and light.

Laurel, Portugal.

Smaller leaved and a darker green than cherry laurel Portuguese Laurel is a fantastic flowering evergreen hedge plant where dense light and sound proof hedging is needed

Privet, Gold.

As for green privet, evergreen but a variegated hedge plant, with gold/cream margins on the leaves.

Privet, Green.

Evergreen formal hedge plant that loves places other plants regard as hell. Ideal for roadside, polluted, dry, dusty and shady spots. Perfect in town.Clips beautifully

Western Red Cedar.

Slower growing than False Cypress, but Thuja makes a wonderful, evergreen aromatic hedge. Clip in early spring and again in autumn.

These are all good hedging plants, just remember that (with the exception of yew - see below) conifer hedges need bi-annual clipping. If they are not trimmed regularly they are hard to get back under control.


The king of the formal hedge plants. Yew hedging grows surprisingly quickly until the leader has been cut off. Once established yew usually only needs clipping once a year. Very hard pruning in mid winter easily restores old and badly maintained yew hedges. A well clipped yew hedge is a thing of great beauty and adds style, form, structure and value to a garden in a way that no other hedging plant can.

We sell many of the plants above in packs of 50 - please follow this link to our Hedge Packs section.

Browse our full range of hedging here.

You can use this link to go straight back to our Hedging, Fruit & Tree Questions Page

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