Griselinia littoralis

Griselinia littoralis is a quick-growing, evergreen shrub with fresh apple-green leaves. It is an excellent hedging plant that forms a neat and tidy hedge. It can also be used near the sea as Griselinia littoralis is tolerant of coastal exposure.

Why plant a Griselinia hedge?

Neat and tidy habit of growth
Tolerant of coastal sites
Attractive apple-green leaves
Easy to maintain
Can be kept small

How far apart should I plant Griselinia littoralis?

Plant Griselinia between 60 and 75cm (2’0”and 2’6”) apart. If you want to form a hedge quickly or want a low hedge (under 150cm or 5’), plant at 60cm (2’0”) apart, otherwise plant at 75cm (2’6”) apart.

Where will Griselinia littoralis grow?

Griselinia plants are tolerant of coastal exposure and are an excellent choice for hedges near the sea although they also make a good hedge for inland areas. Griselinia littoralis prefers full sun but will also grow in partial shade. Griselinia will take temperatures of around -15 ⁰C. We have a Griselinia hedge at our nursery in Somerset.

What type of soil does a Griselinia hedge need?

Griselinia will grow in any free-draining soil (i.e. any soil that is not water-logged), it does not need any special soil.

How tall will Griselinia grow?

Griselinia can be kept at any height and can be used for a small hedge 1 metre (3ft) tall. If it is left untrimmed, it will grow up to 3m (10ft) tall.

How fast will Griselinia grow?

Griselinia littoralis has a growth rate of up to 45cm (18 inches) per year under good conditions, so it will soon form a dense hedge. If you want quicker growing hedging plants then consider Laurel or Leylandii.

When can I plant Griselinia littoralis?

All our Griselinia are grown in pots so they can be planted at any time of year. If you plant between March and October, your plants will need to be watered until the end of October in the first year. Griselinia planted in the winter months (November to February) may not need watering in the first year as they will get their roots established over the winter months. However, it is still worth checking your plants once a week to make sure they are not too dry. Also, hedges watered over the summer will put on more growth.

How often would I need to trim/prune a Griselinia hedge?

As with all quick-growing, evergreen hedges, Griselinia needs to be trimmed once a year. Late spring/early summer is a good time to trim a Griselinia hedge although it can also be trimmed in late August or early September.

Additional Information about Griselinia littoralis

Botany and Origins of Griselinia

Griselinia is a member of the Cornus (Cornaceae) family. The Genus, Griselinia, has only 6 species of plants that are native to New Zealand, south east Brazil and Chile. Griselinia is now widely grown in parts of the UK that are not subjected to temperatures lower than -15⁰C.

Alternatives to Griselinia littoralis

If you need a hedge that survives at lower temperatures, consider Laurel (hardy to -25⁰C), Portugal Laurel (hardy to -23⁰C) or Leylandii (hardy to -25⁰C or more).

Laurel and Leylandii are also quicker-growing than Griselinia, so will form a hedge slightly faster. Because they are faster-growing, they are also usually cheaper to buy.

Griselinia littoralis (Broadleaf) – A moderately quick-growing (up to 2 1/2 feet a year, especially in full sun), upright evergreen tree to 50 feet tall in New Zealand but usually it is grown as a shrub with an average shrub height of 8 to 10 feet tall and as wide. The 4 inch long roundish leaves are thick, leathery and glossy green with small inconspicuous flowers. This plant is dioecious meaning male and female flowers are on separate plants and since it seems that all plants in cultivation are one clone, there is no fruit set. Plant in cool coastal full sun to light shade in well-draining, slightly fertile soil and give average watering. Can withstand seaside conditions, as well as windy sites but does not like hot dry conditions so is best kept as a coastal plant when used in full sun or with shade inland. This species received the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit in 1993. This plant is native to the lowland up into montane forests in North, South and Stewart Islands of New Zealand. The name for the genus honors the Italian botanist Francesco Griselini (1717-1787). The specific epithet is from Latin means “of the sea shore” in reference to this plant growing by the sea. Another common name is the Maori name Kapuka. The information on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery’s garden and in other gardens that we have observed it in. We also will incorporate comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that might aid others in growing Griselinia littoralis.

Whether you just find them pleasing to look at, or you just want a bit more privacy from those nosey neighbours, hedges can be a great addition to your garden.

And unlike many dubious investment portfolios, funds invested into hedges are rarely squandered. In fact, provided you take care of them you’ll find that they steadily grow without too much intervention, and they’ll even benefit when you start to trim a bit of the edges.

Buying and Selecting

Before buying your plants it’s important that you think about what type of hedge you want. Do you want something low growing and formal, or would you prefer something a bit taller? Do you need something quick or are you prepared to wait?

Larger grade hedging is available if you need something now, but if your planting a large hedge that can potentially become expensive.

How many plants you will need also depends on what type of hedge you are planting. For more info on possible hedging plants scroll to the end of this article.


Before planting make sure that the soil is well prepared by digging in Kings Organic Compost to improve soil structure. This can be done by, digging individual holes for each plant or digging the compost into a trench.

In heavier clay soils adding a handful of Gypsum ever 1m2 or so, will further improve the structure. In really heavy soils you can plant into a slight mound to help with drainage.

When planting look at how the plant is already growing. Plant the bushier sides facing across from the next plant, as this will ensure your hedge fills in quicker. Fertilise using Kings 24+ or for an organic option try Aquaticus Supernatural.

Water the plant deeply and mulch with Living Earth More than Mulch to reduce competition for nutrients form weeds.


Watering is essential. Especially in the first year, and it can even increase the growth speed of the hedge by 3-4 times. By keeping plants less water stressed through summer you also make your plants less likely to suffer from pests and diseases.

Another good trick is to use fertilisers that increase soil fertility and improve the life in the soil such as Kings Ocean Grow. For if you create a humus rich soil full of beneficial microorganisms it will hold more moisture, make them more drought resistant, and reduce the likelihood of root diseases.


Regular pruning is essential if you want to create a dense, well-structured hedge. This is particularly important during the first few years. We recommend pruning back hedges by around a third at least once a year to ensure that hedges become bushy. You should do this even if you want a tall hedge as helps it stops gaps forming.

Use pruning loppers to cut any larger branches, or hedge shears to get a nice finish and to trim the hedge back when it has reached your desired height.

A Quick Guide to What’s Available

Short Hedges – Less than 1.5m high

Box Hedging – Buxus Sempervirens

Traditionally used in formal gardens to define the edges of garden beds or to line paths and walkways. Best in full sun.

Foliage: Dark Green, 15mm long and very dense.

Speed of growth: Slow Medium

Height: 0.2-1.5m

Planting distance: 20-30cm

Lonicera Nitida

In a rush? Lonicera Nitida is an attractive option if you need a small dense hedge quickly. Looks relatively similar to Box hedging and great as a formal hedge. Best in full sun.

Foliage: Mid Green, 5mm long, very dense.

Speed of Growth: Fast

Height: 0.2-1.5m

Planting Distance: 30cm


There are several attractive, fairly different looking varieties to choose from. All the varieties commonly available are New Zealand natives, and the hedges generally look great. Can cope with full sun to shade.

Foliage: Range from bright green, silver, or chocolate coloured depending on the variety. 20mm-80mm long.

Speed of growth: Medium

Height: 0.3-2m

Planting Distance: 30-50cm


Choisya Tenata – Great semi-formal small hedge with beautifully scented blossoms that erupt in spring and again in autumn. Grows in sun or shade.

Coprosma – Loads of different varieties to choose from. Many varieties are native to New Zealand and the heaps of different colours and weirdly patterned leaves to choose from. Full Sun

Escallonia – Incredibly pretty flowering shrub with gorgeous flowers in spring/summer. Great for bees and other beneficial insects. Full sun to part shade.

Tall Hedges – Larger than 1.5m

Griselinia Broadway Mint

Attractive cultivar of the New Zealand native Kapuka (Griselinia Littoralis). Forms a dense hedge that is great for screening and providing privacy.

Foliage: Large rounded bright green glossy leaves, 80-100mm long.

Speed of growth: Medium

Height: 1-2.5m

Planting Distance: 0.75m

Eugenia Ventenatii

A new variety of ‘Lilly Pilly’ hedge. Incredibly fast growing, and forms dense hedges with interesting foliage.

Foliage: Oval/pointed leaves 50mm long. New foliage stars of crimson red and then fades to a dark green. Very dense.

Speed of growth: Very Fast

Height: 1.5-3m

Planting Distance: 0.75m


An old favourite, there are lots of different varieties available, many are to NZ natives, and they generally produce a hardy and attractive hedge.

Foliage: Grey/Green/Variegated, 40-100mm long. Needs to be trimmed early and regularly to keep it dense.

Speed of growth: Medium – Fast

Height: 1-3m

Planting Distance: 0.75m

Camellia Hedges

Many Camellia can be used to create delightful hedges.

Camellia Sasanquas are fairly versatile, can be grown in full sun to part shade. Great varities for hedging include Setsugekka, Early Pearly, Mine No Yuki, and many other types.

Or for a smaller hedge you can grow Tea (Camellia Sinensis) into an attractive hedge.

Edible Hedges

Chilean Guava

Can be grown to look like a box hedge. Though it will also produces masses of small tasty and tangy berries that taste a bit like cranberries (hence their other name, New Zealand Cranberries).

Foliage: Small elongated dark green leaves with bright red stems on the new growth.

Speed of growth: Slow growing

Height: 1.5m

Planting distance: 20-30cm

Harvest: Late Summer – Early Autumn

Feijoa Bambina

Grows into a small fairly neat and attractive hedge. Produces small delicious feijoas, that can be eaten skin and all.

Foliage: Attractive evergreen hedge with a nicely rounded canopy.

Speed of growth: Relatively slow growing

Height: 1.5m

Planting distance: 30-50cm

Harvest: April-May (considered a mid season feijoa)


Tall, hardy, attractive, and potentially productive. Feijoa plants won’t be a productive in a hedge as if you keep it trimmed you will reduce the amount of fruit produced (fruit forms on the tips of last years growth). But if you can stagger pruning you may be able to keep it fairly productive.

Foliage: Attractive evergreen hedge with a nicely rounded canopy.

Speed of growth: Relatively slow growing

Height: 4m

Planting distance: 75cm

Harvest: Potentially will produce fruit sometime over April-june

Griselinia Hedging Plants

Further Information about Griselinia Hedging Plants

These plants will grow in all soil types including clay and chalk although they do prefer to have reasonable drainage. Griselinia hedges are successful in aspects from full sun to partial shade. This is a very popular hedging plant in coastal areas, being unaffected by the buffeting winds and salt spray making it one of many hedging species we recommend for coastal planting. Griselinia littoralis hedging plants will also thrive on inland sites including windy and exposed areas although they aren’t suitable where it gets very cold further North – we would suggest choosing a species from our Windy and exposed sites page instead.

Griselinia littoralis hedging plants will fill out quickly when you start to trim them and are suitable for hedges from 1-5 metres in height. The plants have a moderate growth rate of around 30cm per year in reasonable soil – so a Griselinia hedge sits in a sweet spot where it will cover within a reasonable timescale while still being easy to maintain when full size is reached. This is a good species to choose if you need eye level privacy.

Hedges of this species are generally pest and disease free. Sometimes a late spring frost will blacken the emerging new shoots – but they will re grow within a few weeks and no long-term damage is done. In very cold winters some browning of the foliage can occur, but no more than most other hedging evergreens and new growth will emerge in the Spring.

The best time to trim a Griselinia hedge is in late spring before the new growth starts but after the danger of very hard frosts has passed. One trim per year will keep your Griselinia hedge in good order, if you trim more frequently it is possible to achieve a beautifully formal look. Overgrown Griselinia hedges and shrubs can be cut back hard at the same time of year and should regenerate quickly from the old wood, especially if a feed and mulch is applied at the same time to hasten the new growth.

All of our Griselinia littoralis hedging plants are pot grown and so are available all year round and can be relied on to give excellent results whenever you choose to plant them. We grow all our Griselinia here on our own nursery in Kent, they are always despatched fresh from our growing beds direct to your door assuring top quality and predictable future growth in your garden. (It is possible to buy Griselinia hedging plants as root ball plants, and even bare root hedging plants – if you do decide to go down this route we would suggest seeking a guarantee from the supplier you buy them from as they can give mixed results in our experience.)

We also grow Griselinia instant hedges, these have been grown in large troughs for a number of years under the watchful eye of our horticulturalist team here at the nursery with a disciplined regime of trimming to produce an instant hedging product that will give excellent landscape impact from the moment they are planted. All our instant hedges are grown in convenient 1 metre sections and like the potted hedging plants, are available all year round.

When planting your Griselinia littoralis hedging plants we recommend using bone meal thoroughly mixed into well prepared soil, adding rootgrow at planting time will speed up the establishment of your new hedge. If you need any help with planting guidelines you may like to consult our How To Plant A Hedge page where you can download a PDF of comprehensive and easy to follow guidance. We will also email a copy when you order and include a printed copy with your order so you have it handy when you come to plant.

The number of Griselinia plants needed for a new hedge depends on how patient you are, your budget and also the size of plant you choose to begin with. As a guide the smaller plants in 1 litre pots will need 4-5 per metre, 2 litre pots 3-5 per metre and the larger plants 2-3 per metre. You can see our recommended planting density next to each size. You can of course plant further apart using fewer plants and a smaller budget and still get excellent results over time, it just takes longer.

Griselinia hedges are usually planted in a single row although you could use a staggered double row planting for a particularly dense hedge that is a little wider.

We offer generous quantity discounts on our Griselinia plants meaning the more you buy the cheaper they are, and delivery is free on most orders over £50 (ex VAT).

If you have any questions about Griselinia littoralis hedging plants or any of our other hedge species please give our experienced sales team a call on 01580 765600, they will pleased to help and can also offer special tailored quotes for larger quantities of plants

Griselinia Care: Information On How to Grow A Griselinia Shrub

Griselinia is an attractive New Zealand native shrub that grows well in North American gardens. The thick, sturdy trunks and salt-tolerant nature of this evergreen shrub make it perfect for seaside gardens. Plant it as a screen to protect the garden from strong coastal winds and salt spray. It is also ideal for planting around swimming pools.

Griselinia Growing Season

Griselinia littoralis is grown for its evergreen foliage, which looks neat and tidy all year long. The shrub produces tiny greenish-yellow flowers in spring, but they are seldom noticed. If you’ve planted both a male and female plant, the flowers are followed by purple, berry-like fruit. Griselinia self-seeds as the fruit drops to the ground.

Spring and fall are good times for planting griselinia shrubs. Plant the shrub in a hole as deep as the root ball and twice as wide. Set the plant in the hole so that the soil line is even with the surrounding soil. Backfill with soil removed from the hole without amendments, firming with your foot as you go. When the hole is half full, flood it with water to help eliminate air pockets. Fill the hole to the top and water the shrub deeply to saturate the root zone.

How to Grow a Griselinia

Griselinia grows best in a south- or west-facing exposure with full sun.

The shrub isn’t particular about the soil type as long as it is well-drained. It tolerates a wide range of pH, from acid to alkaline, but you should avoid extremes.

Griselinia shrubs thrive in USDA plant hardiness zones 7 and 8.

Griselinia Care

Griselinia care is minimal once the shrub is established. Water it deeply during dry spells and fertilize once a year in early spring.

Griselinia pruning to shape and control the size of the shrub is best done in mid- to late spring. You will lose the season’s berries, but they aren’t particularly ornamental and only of value if you want to save seeds. Remove damaged or diseased twigs and branch tips any time of year. If allowed to overgrow, griselinia pruning of thick, hard wood becomes difficult.

When griselinia drops berries, the seeds inside often germinate and grow. Transplant or remove the young seedlings to prevent overcrowding.

Hedge your bets


Often hebes are not long-lived plants in the garden, but are loved for their abundant, bee-attracting flowers. They are frequently spoilt by a lack of trimming. If the dead flower heads are removed straight after flowering and the foliage cut back by about one third, you can stop hebes from becoming woody, sprawling plants.

Always leave foliage on a stem if you prune back to bare wood, the stem usually dies.


Lophomyrtus x ralphii ‘Kathryn’ has attractive, small, purplish brown, shiny leaves that make it useful for textural and colour contrast in the garden. It will grow to 2m high, but tends to become lanky and leafless as it grows taller. An annual clip will keep it compact. It will also recover from a very hard pruning.

Pseudopanax Lessonii

Many Pseudopanax lessonii (houpara) hybrids and cultivars are described and illustrated on the T.e.R:R.A.I.N website ( ‘Cyril Watson’, ‘Purpurea’, ‘Trident’ and ‘Goldfinger’ are a few examples of the wonderful foliage plants available in this species. They respond very well to pruning. If they are not pruned annually, especially if growing in part shade, they tend to lose all their lower leaves and produce foliage high on a 2m-3m plant, on which their beauty goes to waste. Their large leaves make them unsuitable for a tight formal hedge, but they can easily be pruned into an informal hedge or a tall pleached hedge.

Although pseudopanax flowers have tiny green petals and no obvious scent they are very attractive to insects. My mature

P. lessonii ‘Cyril Watson’ buzzes with native bees and honeybees in January (photo 6). The berries are good food for the birds. I recommend pruning pseudopanax in early autumn. In spring you will be removing potential flowering branchlets in midsummer cutting off the outer foliage will lead to the softer leaves underneath scorching in the sun (photo 7), and in late autumn and winter the regrowth will inevitably be damaged by frost. Trim stems back to 5mm above a leaf base to avoid leaving an ugly stick that will die back (photo 8). The young foliage of P. lessonii ‘Purpurea’ turns a beautiful deep maroon colour in cool weather. If you prune it in early autumn you can maximise this colour all winter and well into spring (photo 9).

Frost Damage

If a shrub does become frost damaged it is best to leave the damaged foliage on the plant until all danger of frost has passed. The dead leaves help insulate the foliage underneath, providing protection from further frost damage. If you delay pruning until new growth appears in spring, you will see clearly how far to cut back the damaged stems.

Pruning every year might not be necessary in the cooler parts of the country, but it certainly is in milder areas like Auckland. Set a reminder for yourself in your garden diary or on your computer so you do not forget to complete this easily overlooked task. You will be surprised at how good well-pruned native shrubs look.

10 reasons to choose Griselinia littoralis

Griselinia Littoralis is a Best4hedging favourite and is one of our top 10 selling species. Famous for its large ovate leaves, hence its alternative name New Zealand Broadleaf, which display beautiful light shades of apple green. Not only utilised for its calming colour that has the ability to bring a relaxing ambience to a garden, it holds a number of benefits that validates its popularity in thousands of gardens and garden designs.

  1. Its popularity in gardens across the country has been noticed by The Royal Horticultural Society. As a result, Griselinia is the well-deserved recipient of the Award of Garden Merit.
  2. It offers beautiful foliage consisting of oval leaves and flexible stems, which showcase soft shades of apple green. The gentle colour of Griselinia provides the perfect backdrop to accentuate intensely coloured shrubs or can make a wonderful single species feature.
  3. Due to its evergreen nature, its luxurious green foliage is ever present giving you year round interest and winter cover.
  4. For a brighter look, you can access a variegated alternative for Griselinia littoralis, Griselinia littoralis Dixon’s Cream. It has an interesting leaf pattern, which displays green leaves surrounded by a contrasting cream outline.
  5. Being located by the sea can prove problematic when designing a garden. However, Griselinia can withstand the strong gales, cold temperatures and salt laden air that are experienced in full force within these areas. It makes a quality coastal garden barrier so you can include exotic plants, less tolerant to these conditions as they are protected by this coastal gardener’s ally.
  6. It will achieve about 30cm a year and ideal for heights up to 6 metres, making it the perfect screening hedge. It can either be left to grow to create a natural, informal bushy appearance or trimmed into a neat and tidy shape.
  7. Its sturdy structure can withstand a hard prune so you don’t need to worry if your Griselinia hedge requires a serious cut back.
  8. As well as providing year round interest, it offers seasonal characteristics as small yellow-green flowers appear in summer, only to be replaced by purple fruits in autumn.
  9. Accessible year round as you can purchase Griselinia hedging plants in containers, or get your hands on a professionally maintained, fully formed, instant hedge for instant impact. Also available as cost effective bare roots in the dormant season.
  10. Gain added wildlife interest with Griselinia littoralis. The small purple fruits are popular amongst Bristish birds and small animals are attracted to the safe habitiat in which its dense, evergreen foliage offers.

Facts you probably didn’t know about Griselinia littoralis

  • The flowers and berries appear on female plants. We grow both male and female plants on our site to ensure you attain your seasonal attributes.
  • There are six species of Griselinia, addressing from New Zealand, Brazil and Chile. The main species grown in Britain is the Griselinia littoralis.

Find more species specific videos on our Best4hedging YouTube Channel as well as helpful how-to guides and planting advice.

Are Some Of Your Griselinia Hedge Plants Looking Like They Might Die?

Are Some Of Your Griselinias Dying Off?

The Garden Team come across this problem in many of our clients’ gardens almost on a weekly basis.

To the un-trained eye it can look like the plant hasn’t been watered enough and either some of the leaves are getting big, black spots or worse still the whole plant or even the whole row of plants die.

More often than not your plant has a disease.

The disease is likely to be Phytophthora. This is a soil borne pathogen that attacks the roots. Some plant species are more vulnerable to this difficult to control disease.

Options are to use a fungicide soil drench. We use a product called Phoscheck.

Alternatively, you can treat the soil with a beneficial microbe called Trichoderma. This can be purchased as Trichopel. Both Trichoderma and Phoscheck applications will need to be on-going. Digging out and disposing of the affected plants and all the surrounding soil is a better option, but obviously more expensive.

We at The Garden Team normally suggest trying to treat the soil and foliage over a few months. There is a good chance of recovering your soil and plants to a healthy state, but it’s not guaranteed.

We have commercial quantities of these products and can advise a recovery or replacement plan for you.

What you really need to know about evergreen hedges for privacy

‘People forget to check the rate of growth of a hedge before they buy,’ he said. ‘So they choose something very slow-growing like yew when they want privacy fast. Or they choose something fast-growing like a Leylandii when they only want to clip once a year.’

The next biggest mistake, he says, is to forget that a new hedge needs extra nutrition while it’s establishing itself.

‘While the majority of people understand that a new hedge needs regular watering, many don’t realise that they’ll benefit enormously from being fed. We recommend a mix of three feeds: Rootgrow , bonemeal and Afterplant.’ Rootgrow has beneficial mycrorrhizal fungus to help roots get established, bonemeal feeds the young hedge and Afterplant is a top dressing with responsibly sourced seaweed.’

Note: links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you buy, I may get a small fee. See disclosure.

See this video on how to plant a hedge:

1) Privet is coming back into fashion

Privet (ligustrum) has a somewhat suburban reputation, but it’s also being used more in a design context now. It’s certainly one of the best hedges for privacy as it’s evergreen and grows fast, but never gets too high.

Garden consultant Posy Gentles considers it a top hedging choice because it clips into neat shapes like box. It doesn’t have the problems that box currently has (with box blight and box tree moth) and it grows faster. It’s a good choice if you want a hedge up to 8ft (around 2.5m).

However, Daniel Bentham warns that privet can suffer in harsh winters.

2) Portuguese Laurel

Daniel’s top recommendation for a hedge for privacy is Portuguese Laurel, which has glossy dark green leaves and red stems.

Portuguese laurel from Best4Hedging

We had a Portuguese Laurel hedge all round my childhood home in Surrey. My mother simply planted sticks of it straight into the ground, and it turned into a hedge within a couple of years. It withstood droughts, bad winters and torrential rain.

The trunk of a Portuguese Laurel at Great Dixter with euphorbia around the base. Like my parents’ hedging, it has got a little out of control.

However, it grew quickly and did get really big. My father had a strange aversion to pruning, so we eventually had a forest around us. You could easily avoid this by pruning regularly.

Daniel also recommends Griselinia (known as New Zealand privet), because it is particularly well-behaved. ‘It’s a lush green evergreen, which is completely non-toxic. Its roots are very unlikely to cause any problems with walls or paving.’

Griselinia leaves from Best4Hedging.

Griselinia is a paler green than privet, which not everybody likes.

Here’s a griselinia hedge at The Salutation garden in Kent. There is lush planting on the other side of it.

Viburnum tinus.

Daniel’s third recommendation is Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’, which has pink buds in winter and lovely white flowers in spring.

Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’ from Best4Hedging.

I’ve found viburnums are generally a good height for privacy or to cover an eyesore. Not all are evergreen, however.

This Viburnum opulus grows over a wall in Faversham, Kent to make a garden less over-looked by its neighbours. However, it isn’t evergreen, so there’s no screening in winter.


Bamboo can create an excellent evergreen hedge for privacy. However, you have to be careful about your choice of bamboo. I asked Bruce Jordan of The Big Plant Nursery for his advice on using bamboo for garden privacy.

Fargesia robusta from The Big Plant Nursery.

‘Bamboo can be really good as a hedge, but some bamboos can be invasive. They need a root barrier.’ Other bamboos, however, he says, do not have invasive roots. He recommends Fargesia robusta as a bamboo type which won’t need a root barrier and is suitable for town gardens. It usually grows to between 3m-4m, depending on which variety you choose.

If you live in England, bamboo is not covered by the High Hedges Act so there’s no legal restriction on how high it can be when used as a hedge.


A friend of mine used to work as a Parks Superintendent for a local council. ‘High hedges cause more trouble between neighbours than almost any other issue,’ he says. He used to get calls complaining about hedges every day.

He recommends espaliered or pleached hornbeam if you want privacy in your garden. It isn’t evergreen and is therefore exempt from the High Hedges Act. But it does hold some leaves in the winter, so it’s a good compromise.

Hornbeam also has good resistance to disease. For example, we have honey fungus in our garden, so that could be important.

This pleached hornbeam is awaiting a trim. It makes a space-saving option for privacy.

How high can your hedges for privacy be?

This post covers the law on English hedges. However, if you live elsewhere, it will give you pointers as to what issues you may need to check before choosing your hedge. And, wherever you live, individual houses or areas may have covenants or local regulations that over-ride national laws. Check both your Deeds and your local rules.

Since the High Hedges Act 2008, a ‘high hedge’ in England is a hedge more than two metres high. That’s 6ft 5″.

A hedge, legally, is three trees or more in a row. The High Hedges Act only applies to evergreen hedges, so if the leaves of your hedge fall off in winter, then your neighbour can’t complain.

Your hedge can be higher than two metres provided it doesn’t block too much light from your neighbour’s garden or home. There are no restrictions on deciduous hedges, ivy or bamboo.

This shows that an ivy hedge can be clipped to look smart. You can grow an ivy hedge higher than this.

In 2008 The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister released a very finely-tuned calculation on how high a hedge should be. Find it here.

Even if you don’t live in England, it has useful calculations on what is fair and reasonable. It isn’t legally enforceable – it just offers guidance to councils to help them decide whether to take action against someone with a hedge higher than 6ft 5″.

Essentially, the calculation divides the square footage of your neighbour’s garden by the length of your hedge.

Then there’s an additional step to take into account which way the hedge faces. A hedge on a southern boundary affects light more than one on a northern boundary, for example. There’s also an extra calculation if the hedge affects any windows.

You could be allowed three or four metres of hedge before a council would consider it too high.

In England, you need planning permission for a fence higher than two metres in your back garden. So a hedge may be a better option because it can often be higher. Here’s a post with more about fences for privacy.

More information on garden privacy

The Middlesized Garden has a number of posts on garden privacy. You may find that a combination of elements works best for you.

You’re allowed individual trees of any height. Sometimes a single tree, carefully positioned, may be all you need to create an area of privacy in your garden. There’s more about the best perfect-for-privacy trees here.

Screening, too, can help, especially if it’s positioned near to you. There are some great new designs for garden screens now. See New directions in Garden Privacy Screens. And if you want a fence on one or more of your boundaries, here’s what you need to know about hedges for privacy.

I spotted this planting in a French village. A low evergreen hedge is topped with a line of pleached limes, which are deciduous.

Shop my favourite gardening books, tools and products

I’m often asked for recommendations, so I’ve put together some useful lists of the gardening tools, books and products I use myself. You can find them on the Middlesized Garden Amazon store. For example, here are the main gardening tools you really need for gardening. And there’s a list of other gardening essentials, such as good gloves and kneelers.

And if you’d like a gorgeous garden, but have limited time, money or expertise, do follow the Middlesized Garden blog by email (see box below). We’ll pop into your inbox every Sunday morning with gardening tips, ideas and inspiration.

Pin to remember hedges for privacy

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