Most trees and shrubs have potential to make hedges.
Hedging plants are often supplied as bare-root specimens, which are usually inexpensive. However, pot-grown plants are equally suitable but cost a little more.
Evergreens, especially, are often sold as root-wrapped, where the roots are in a soil ball contained by a fabric casing. This wrapping must be removed, if it is of synthetic fibre, but natural fibre wrappings are sometimes left on.
Removal of wrapping is still recommended, though. Small hedge plants are often called whips and are about 60cm (2ft) high. They are very cheap and are easy to establish. Larger plants need more care and are more expensive. It is best to plant whips closely as they not only form a thick hedge, but compete with each other and so reduce the amount of trimming required.
When to plant a hedge
Evergreen and semi-evergreen hedges: Early autumn is ideal for hedging plants such as box, privet (semi-evergreen) and yew. However, they can be planted at any time from late autumn until late winter.
Deciduous hedges: Plant beech, hawthorn and hornbeam any time from leaf fall. This is typically from mid-autumn until late winter.
In all cases, planting is best delayed until the soil can be worked easily, especially if the ground is frozen or waterlogged.
If there is a delay in planting, keep the plants in a frost-free shed and cover their roots with moist straw, paper or potting compost and plastic sheet. This will prevent them drying out. Alternatively, they can be temporarily planted very close together in a trench, with their roots covered in at least 20cm (8in) of soil (this is called heeling-in).