It’s so just yew

The colours of autumn
The colours of autumn
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It’s that time of year again when hedges become a focal point in the gardening calendar.

Every home needs its boundaries, and hedges – “green fences and walls” – are a wonderful way of putting one in place and, at the same time, bringing a host of other benefits to the garden.

Hedges can provide a living shield between you and the world, and depending on the species, you can have year-round foliage or just seasonal interest.

Wildlife can find refuge in hedges, which also filter wind without creating turbulence – one of the big problems with solid structures.

A thorny hedge is also an effective deterrent to unwanted visitors, and all hedges are a barrier against dust, dirt and litter.

For beautiful and practical garden boundaries, look at evergreens such as conifers, yews or box which are perfect for smart, year-round green boundaries.

For some seasonal plant magic, go for deciduous plants – for example, hornbeam or beech. Thorny plants like berberis or pyracantha will improve your security, and for flower-rich hedges, consider Rosa rugosa or fuchsia, even potentilla whose attractive, colourful blooms will be a source of pleasure every year.

Planting a hedge is straightforward if you follow some simple steps. And autumn is the ideal time to do the job.

Dig a 90cm strip (150cm for boundary hedges). Fork in plenty of compost or well-rotted manure (a barrowload per metre is ideal and should help to avoid subsequent drought problems).

Use either bare root or container-grown plants and plant along a line approx 45cm apart for deciduous and 90cm for conifers.

If your garden is in an exposed position, protect young conifers with a plastic mesh windbreak. Water all plants well, apply general fertiliser in early spring and water regularly throughout the next growing season.

Hedges don’t need to be made up of a single species. If there’s the space, a mixed hedge, perhaps including hazel, ash and blackthorn, will provide a suitable bridge between the garden and the ground beyond.

If you’ve don’t want things to be too regimented, let it grow a little wild – clematis climbing through a tangle of branches will create a wonderful splash of colour.

At the opposite extreme, box or yew hedges can make a very formal statement either neatly clipped or year on year transformed into a topiary wonderland. It’s a bit more work, but well worth the effort for something different.