Hedging plants should be selected according to the kind of garden you want. Clearly, if you want a great deal of seclusion you wil opt for taller plants than you would if you wanted to divide ornamental beds from each other. Some hedging plants are trees, whereas others are flowers or shrubs
Generally you will want trees of moderate size that grow reasonably quickly. However, you must consider the soil conditions to see whether they are suitable for the kind of plant that you want. For example, Field Maple [Acer campestre] is a good hedging plant, but it needs chalky, alkaline soil and does not grow in the North of England. Similarly, willow is suitable for wet ground and does not like dry soil.
Some trees have a good protective function. Berberis [barberry] has thorns, as does hawthorn. However, if you have young children who will play with their balls in the garden, berberis is not a good idea. Its berries are not generally palatable to humans, but they can be used when roasting lamb, when you put two of them onto the lamb and let them drip their juices down it. Hawthorn is good, but it needs controlling, as it can turn into a straggly tree if left untended. Hawthorn berries are edible, but best left to the birds. They. like other trees with berries, make a good contribution to a wildlife garden.
Beech make popular hedging plants, but they need to be kept under control, as they can grow to a great height. Similarly, yew is very popular, but it needs to be controlled, even though it is not as naturally tall as beech. But here is a word of warning. All parts of the yew are poisonous, and if you have young children, you should not plant a yew hedge, as the arils [berries] can kill if eaten.
Leylandii is becoming less popular than it was, as it grows to sucha height that it is antisocial and can be subject to legal restrictions. Similarly, privet can grow to a great height, though kept under control it is useful. However, privet has the habit of drawing goodness from the soil.Blackthorn is a shrub that is found in hedgerows across parts of Britain. It is thorny, and it needs to be kept in control.Its berries are good for sloe gin, but are totally unplatable.
If you go to many ornamental gardens you will see small plots of flowers bounded by box. This is a useful tree that can be kept short and makes excellent divisions inside the garden. However, box often needs to be replaced every few years and it is not as tough as some of the other hedging plants.
For this purpose of dividing up gardens lavender does a good job, as there are strong levender hedges in many high quality gardens. Lavender also attracts bees and is therefore very wildlife friendly. Honeysuckle [the various varieties of Lonicera ] is also a popular hdging plant, though tis tendency to grow tall needs to be kept under control.
Some wildlife takes well to hedges that are bit straggly and unkempt. Wrens and sparrows are known to find nests in hedges where there is the protection provided by thorns. Wrens are small enough to fly into thorny hedges unscathed. Sparrows also have been known to nest in thick hedges. But hedges that are cut and trimmed are less attractive to birds than are straggly ones. Take your choice.