Hedging plants must surely rank among the most useful of living garden features. Their main function is as an alternative to a fence or wall, acting as a boundary or divider. There will be hedging plants to suit any garden style, formal or informal, large or small. Use them to make garden rooms or define different areas. Low hedges are ideal for edging or to make parterres and knot gardens. Taller, fast-growing hedges are useful for hiding unsightly structures or views. Once established they are highly resistant to strong winds and will endure for many decades.

Thick or thorny hedges are harder to climb over than a wall or fence and are graffiti-proof, perfect in urban areas. Indeed, in towns and cities, hedges offer other helpful qualities such as reducing noise pollution, and some even help trap polluting particulates and so help improve air quality. Hedges can also assist in alleviating flash flooding while, of course, offering a sanctuary for a whole host of wildlife. Some hedges are evergreen, other deciduous; some provide scented flowers or even edible fruits. Some are quick-growing, others require more patience and, while some need regular cutting, many need little maintenance once established.

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