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Hedge Fund’s Big Short Shows Why Demand for Alt-Data Is Surging


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Before the coronavirus sent stock markets tumbling at the fastest pace since the 2008 financial crisis, Dymon Asia Capital (Singapore) Pte sensed trouble.

The hedge fund firm was combining information on past outbreaks with a raft of so-called alternative data, including Google searches in the U.S. and daily readings from China on everything from road congestion to flight schedules and test-kit availability. The numbers convinced Dymon to take short positions against the S&P 500 and an index of Chinese stocks in Hong Kong, trades that would become its biggest money makers in February and March.

“It was clear the market was under-pricing the impact of Covid-19,” Danny Yong, Dymon’s chief investment officer, said in an interview. The firm’s flagship $2 billion Dymon Asia Macro Fund has climbed about 40% this year.

While investors like Yong have been using alternative data for years, the coronavirus has prompted a fresh surge in demand for off-the-beaten-path statistics that might shed light on the pandemic’s impact on economies and markets. Interest in Chinese data has been particularly strong as money managers try to get an early read on efforts to contain the virus and reboot the world’s second-largest economy.

“After the outbreak, we saw a spike in demand for data to show what was really happening in China,” said Hong Kong-based Heatherm Huang, co-founder of Measurable AI, a company that tracks business receipts sent via its email-aggregator service. “Now, investors want to know how fast Chinese companies and the economy can recover.”

What happens in China has rarely been more important for global money managers. But the time lag between government data and the fast-changing reality on the ground — along with official attempts to downplay bad news during the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak — have made an already opaque economy even more difficult to parse. That may be one reason why many investors initially underestimated the fallout.

Read more:
Experts Get Creative to Measure Coronavirus Blow to Economy
Quants Think Like Amateurs in World’s Wildest Stock Market
China Concealed Extent of Virus Outbreak, U.S. Intelligence Says

It also helps explain why alternative data providers in China have seen a recent jump in demand.

For Beijing-based BigOne Lab, the pickup has been noticeable among venture capital, hedge fund and private equity clients. Backed by investors including S&P Global Ratings, BigOne tracks everything from the number of merchants operating on China’s largest food delivery site to flight traffic and hiring patterns. Among the notable trends to show up in BigOne’s data in recent weeks: inbound flights to China have spiked and companies are hiring blue-collar workers at the fastest pace since November.

“There’s a lot of curiosity on just how much China has really recovered,” said Chen Mu, BigOne’s founder. “Stats like this help give people a better understanding.”

Ship Docks, E-Commerce

There are now about a dozen startups in China specializing in alternative data, according to Wu Haiyan, managing partner at China Growth Capital, a VC firm that invested in BigOne. Some global players, including UBS Group AG, are also pouring resources into the space. About one-third of the staff at the Swiss bank’s specialized data unit are now based in China, according to Barry Hurewitz, the global head of Evidence Lab Innovations at UBS.

Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, also provides data and analytics to financial professionals in China and around the world.

Evidence Lab works with scores of partners and licenses some of its data, which includes remote sensing images of ship docks and transaction data from e-commerce sites. The level of detail can get so specific that users are able to track how many coffee shops Starbucks Corp. opens in China on a given day, and compare that with its largest local competitor Luckin Coffee.

Evidence Lab operates a subscription model but is also exploring other options including project-based fees, Hurewitz said. BigOne sells subscriptions and generates a few million dollars a year in revenue, said Chen, declining to be more specific. Measurable AI offers subscriptions by company ticker and country, which can range from $2,500 to $10,000 per item a month.

WeBank, the online lender founded by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd., also offers company-specific data and research. By comparing the number of cars parked in front of Tesla Inc.’s Shanghai factory between January and February, it was able to predict when the electric-vehicle maker had restarted production.

“Quantitatively driven funds especially are trying to incorporate our indexes into their investment models,” said Haishan Wu, who previously worked at BlackRock Inc. and is now vice general manager of WeBank’s AI team. “As the coronavirus becomes more of a global issue, more and more companies will be interested in this.”

Increasingly accurate data will be available in future from sensors attached to Internet of Things devices, Wu said. China’s high mobile penetration rate, meanwhile, means ever more aspects of peoples’ lives are open to analysis, especially as citizens grow accustomed to giving away data in exchange for convenience. While that can raise tricky questions about privacy, most alternative data companies take steps to delete any personally identifiable information in line with Chinese laws.

“The whole world is becoming integrated and digitized,” said China Growth Capital’s Wu. “Investment decisions now and in the future all need to be based on big data.”

How to Landscape With Hedge Plants

Hedge plants require regular pruning to grow and maintain dense growth for privacy.

  • 1 Landscape with a Hedge Fence
  • 2 Care for Otto Luyken Laurel Plants
  • 3 Landscape With Eugenias
  • 4 Prune Overgrown Evergreen Hedges

Hedge plants define boundaries, divide areas of your property and provide privacy when needed, with the added benefit of colorful foliage that you don’t get with traditional fences. While you might first associate hedges with screening the front yard from the road, hedges can be used low to the ground as dividers or borders. You can also use deciduous flowering perennial shrubs as hedge plants instead of limiting your choices to only evergreen shrubs. Among the choices for hedge plants are common boxwood (Buxus sempervirens), barberry (Berberis spp.), privet (Ligustrum spp.) and common lilac (Syringa vulgaris).

Sketch your home and garden to scale on graph paper; sketch paper works well, but graph paper makes it easier to achieve the proper scale. Look for areas that could use a hedge screen, and then measure the available space so you can choose the appropriate plants based on their sizes at full maturity. For example, you can’t create a 10-feet-tall privacy fence with shrubs that only grow to 5 feet; while pruning can contain the size of plants that are too tall or wide for the area, it is best to choose plants that more closely fall within the size needed.

Dig a trench for planting the hedge plants instead of digging separate holes for each plant. Work soil amendments, such as compost, leaf mold, peat moss and aged manure into the native soil with a garden hoe to improve soil structure and drainage. A home soil test can tell you if the soil acidity requires adjustment; add iron sulfate to alkaline soil and limestone to acidic soil, according to the needs of the plant species you choose.

Space small hedge plants 6 to 8 inches apart, medium plants about 12 inches apart, large plants 18 to 30 inches apart and conifer hedge trees up to 6 feet apart. Although each plant species has its own recommended spacing guidelines, hedge plants must be planted closer together in order to appear as a dense, single unit. Allow greater spacing if the hedge will not be trimmed as you would with a formal hedge.

Pinch the green tips of young plants to force new branches. Stop pinching the tips of flowering shrubs when flower buds develop, and then hard prune the plants after blooming.

Prune plants severely once or twice yearly in spring or fall; generally, you should cut out one-half of the new growth each year. Thin out branches by cutting them back to the point of origin on the parent stem to encourage additional branches below the cut. You can also cut older branches back to the ground in a process called renewal pruning, which reinvigorates the hedge plants with new growth; this is usually done in a three-year cycle, cutting out one-third of the old branches each year.

Cut the sides of your hedge at a slight slope, with a wide base and narrow top, so the foliage receives even water and sunlight for even growth throughout the hedge.

Plant a low hedge, using plants that grow to 1 to 2 feet tall, as a border in the front of flowerbeds or to line walkways. Choose a low-growing, dwarf cultivar of a standard hedge plant, such as evergreen elegans boxwood (Buxus sempervirens “Elegantissima”) or a flowering shrub like autumn bravo azaleas (Azalea x “Conlen”).

Separate your front yard from the street or sidewalk with a hedge trained to 4 to 6 feet, depending on the level of privacy desired; a 6-feet-tall hedge makes it more difficult for neighbors to see into your yard. Choose taller dwarf cultivars of standard species if you wish to lessen the amount of pruning required to maintain the desired height. While many dwarf plants will grow up to 6 feet and taller, they tend to grow more slowly than the standard varieties, so you might prefer a standard so the hedge fills in quickly.

Plant tall conifers, such as pyramidal arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis “Pyramidalis”) close together to make a windscreen and privacy hedge to make your backyard more enjoyable.

Choose evergreen shrubs for the hedge if you prefer a more formal look or year-round foliage. Boxwood, privet, yew (Taxus spp.) and cotoneaster (Cotoneaster spp.) are among the commonly used evergreens for hedges, with species ranging in size from only a few feet to over 10 feet tall.

Choose flowering shrubs as your hedge plants to bring color to your landscape, choosing between evergreen and deciduous flowering shrubs depending on your preference. Some dense-growing shrubs to consider include lilac (Syringa spp.), forsythia (Forsythia spp.), spirea (Spirea spp.), hydrangea (Hydrangea spp.) and viburnum (Viburnum spp.).

Add a firethorn (Pyracantha spp.) or barberry hedge, which have barbed branches, to deter unwanted pet traffic into your yard, while providing a safe habitat for birds and other small creatures. These plant species also fill the hedge with colorful berries that double as food for the animals, but should be kept away from high-traffic areas.

Plant a paper flower (Bougainvillea spp.), gardenia (Gardenia spp.) or hibiscus (Hibiscus spp.) hedge to coordinate with a tropical landscaping style.

Advice on Choosing the Right Plants for Hedging


Hedges Direct has created a dedicated page to help you choose the right species of plants for hedging for your garden or outdoor landscape. Using our expert knowledge and experience within the horticultural industry, we have listed and described the main hedge plant species for each situation. However, if you need additional help or advice to navigate the options, e.g. if you need a coastal, prickly or evergreen option, then give our team a call today on 01257 263873

For each situation, we’ve provided you with our top recommendations for choosing the right plants for hedging. We also have a vast range of additional hedge plant species you can consider if you wish to do more research.

Ready made instant hedging, grown in troughs is gaining in popularity for those seeking instant impact. Although there are other ways to achieve a good tall hedge fairly quickly (root ball hedge plants and also large potted plants) nothing quite compares with the fact that trough grown instant hedging is already knitted together and trimmed on the sides and top so that when it is planted it looks like it’s been there for ever. This saves at least a couple of years on high density planting of any other type of plant.

Our instant hedging troughs are show garden quality plants for hedging (not all are and some of our naughty competitors call their stock “instant” when it’s not even trough grown). Learn more about our Instant Hedging range here.

Whether you’re looking to deter youths just making a bit of nuisance of themselves, or serious burglars, intruder hedging (also called security hedging) can be really useful. Some of the species we sell have really vicious thorns which you can grow over the top of a fence or wall to discourage people coming into your garden – or you can grow them under and around windows. Burglars are aware that they can leave tell-tale signs on hedging – either tiny threads of ripped clothing or specks of blood. Many people mix some of these species together. Our mixed native hedging packs contain Hawthorn, Blackthorn and Dog Rose.

The best hedge plant species in our opinion for intruder hedging are listed below (click the links to read our full information/see photographs and pricing)

  • Pyracantha (Firethorn) – one of our top-selling species for this purpose because as well as having really dangerous thorns, it also is evergreen, has pretty fragrant flowers and profuse berries (red, orange or yellow) in winter
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) – used for millions of miles of farm hedging, with gorgeous bright spring leaf growth, pretty blossom and red autumn haws so profuse that the whole bush looks red in November. It is deciduous but has very strong thorns and a network of strong branches
  • Red Leaf Berberis (Berberis ottowensis auricoma) is deciduous, has bright red leaves, which get brighter, flame coloured in autumn, yellow flowers and dark red berries.
  • Dog Rose (Rosa canina) – a very spreading bush, with extremely good thorns and pretty pink/white rose flowers and red rose hips – deciduous
  • Holly – either English Holly (Ilex aquifolium) or Silver Holly (Ilex aquifolium ‘Argentea marginata’) – all are evergreen, with glossy, spiky edged leaves and profuse berries

Additional species all with good thorns are:

Hedges at the sea-side can be a challenge because of the winds and salt spray. The extent to which you need a species suitable for coastal hedging depends on how far you are from the sea/beach/cliff. We’ve listed the best five hedge plant species for coastal hedging but if you are half a mile inland in a sheltered spot, you’ll be able to choose from the additional list of species shown below the top five.

  • Escallonia – our top seller – evergreen with shiny dark leaves and a long flowering period with red, pink or white flowers. It can lose some leaves in very cold winters so we wouldn’t recommend this for very cold coastal situations
  • Griselinia littoralis – a gorgeous evergreen with bright apple green leaves – again not an ideal hedge plant for the coldest areas. We also have a variegated version, Griselinia Dixon’s Cream.
  • Oleaster (Elaeagnus x ebbingei) – if you are coastal and cold, this is the one for you. It’s evergreen, with dark green leaves which are silver on the underside. Some silver spots on the leaves, very small grey flowers and sometimes some orange berries
  • Euonymus japonicus ‘Ovatus Aureus’ – this gorgeous evergreen features a gilded edge to its vibrant green leaves
  • Gorse (Ulex europaeus) – dazzling egg yolk yellow flowers, very thorny, appearance of an evergreen

These are our top five plants for hedging that are suitable for coastal regions the coast but providing you don’t get too much salt wind, the following are also good options

Many of our customers want an evergreen hedge to give a year-round green boundary. Whilst evergreens are more expensive than deciduous hedging they have many benefits in giving privacy, disguising unattractive features in your own or neighbouring gardens, providing safe nesting sites for birds and also a great backdrop in the garden against which other plants can be shown off. Evergreen hedges can also help to reduce noise levels and absorb pollution.

Read more on evergreen plants for hedging here, or see our top five evergreen species below;

  • Cherry or Common Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) – we sell thousands of these excellent hedge plants – glossy bright green leaves, very good at keeping their leaves in winter, fast growing, and easy to grow virtually anywhere
  • Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium) – very good even in high pollution areas, fast growing but will lose some leaves in cold winters
  • Yew (Taxus baccata) – the king of hedging – luxurious, lush, very dark green foliage, slow growing so easy maintenance
  • Leylandii Green (Cupressocyparis leylandii) – very fast growing, dense, dark green foliage
  • Lonicera nitida – fast growing, tiny leaves so it looks very neat when just trimmed

And the additional species if you want to look a bit further:

Bamboo – Black (Phyllostachys nigra) – Our most popular variety – we also have Green, Golden and Umbrella Bamboo
Beech – Green (Fagus sylvatica) – not quite a full evergreen but does keep its (copper) leaves in winter until new growth pushes through
Berberis stenophylla
Box (Buxus sempervirens)
Brachyglottis (Senecio ‘Sunshine’)
Cotoneaster franchetii (Franchet’s cotoneaster)
Cotoneaster lacteus (Late cotoneaster)
Escallonia (Read our full guide to all varieties of Escallonia)
Euonymus ‘Emerald Gaiety’ and Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’ Hedge
Leylandii – Golden (Cupressocyparis leylandii ‘Castlewellan Gold’)
Euonymus japonicus ‘Ovatus Aureus’ and Euonymus ‘Kathy’
Griselinia littoralis
Griselinia ‘Dixons Cream’
English Holly (Ilex aquifolium)
Holly – Silver (Ilex aquifolium ‘Argentea marginata’)
Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) – like Beech, a semi evergreen which keeps it’s copper leaves in winter
Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis)
Portuguese Laurel (Prunus lusitanica)
Spotted Laurel (Aucuba japonica crotonifolia)
English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Lavender Hidcote (Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’)
French Lavender (Lavandula Stoechas)
Lonicera pileata
Lonicera nitida ‘Baggesen’s Gold’ (Honeysuckle ‘Baggesen’s Gold’)
Monterey cypress ‘Goldcrest’ (Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Goldcrest’)
Mexican Orange Blossom (Choisya ternata)
Mexican Orange Blossom – Golden (Choisya ternate ‘Sundance’)
Oleaster (Eleagnus ebbingei)
Photinia Red Robin (Photinia fraseri x Red Robin)
Pyracantha – Here you can read our full pyracantha hedge plant guide for info on all the different varieties
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Viburnum tinus
Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata ‘Atrovirens’) – this one nearly made the top 5 – another very popular species

A hedge is more than a hedge when it flowers. Our top five flowering hedge plants are fantastic species, with profuse, spectacular, colourful flowers.

  • Escallonia – gorgeous dark pink/red, pale pink or white flowers with the bonus of dark green evergreen foliage and fast growth
  • Cotoneaster franchetii (Franchet’s cotoneaster) – pale pink pearl sized flowers, red berries and evergreen foliage in an usual sage green colour
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) – the staple building block of mixed hedging – profuse blossom in May, red haws and pretty green leaves – deciduous and prickly
  • Osmanthus x burkwoodii – very dark green leaves and fragrant white flowers
  • Viburnum tinus – winter flowering with clusters of pink edged white flowers, blue berries, evergreen

And there are so many other flowering species:

There are a limited number of hedging species with variegated foliage. They tend to be a bit more expensive than the plain green versions, largely because they’re all a bit slower growing than their green cousins – so they tend to be used for shorter lengths of hedging – but they can add a lot to a garden by providing a colourful backdrop, summer and winter. They are all evergreens so keep their leaves all through the winter. If any leaves come through as plain green, just nip them off back to a main stem.

Our top five hedge plant species for variegated foliage are:

  • Griselinia ‘Dixons Cream’ – green leaves with a clean cream edge
  • Spotted Laurel (Aucuba japonicas ‘Crotonifolia’) – large pointed green leaves with yellow spots
  • Oleaster ‘Gilt Edge’ (Elaeagnus x ebbingei ‘Gilt Edge’) – dark green leaves with a bright yellow edge
  • Silver Holly (Ilex aquifolium ‘Argentea marginata’) – dark green leaves with a cream/pink edge
  • Golden Privet (Ligustrum ovalifoliium Aureum) – yellow leaves with some green
  • Euonymus japonicus ‘Kathy’ – tough green leaves with a cream edge

And if you want to consider other variegated plants for hedging there’s also:

Plenty of hedging species have berries, hips or haws or some other fruit that’s edible to wildlife. It’s marvellous to see birds bouncing on slender branches whilst they feast on lovely ripe fruits. Different species of birds like different types of berries so mixtures are best if you’re wildlife mad. Berries aren’t just for the birds though – they provide colour when there’s little else going on in the garden – and some are edible for humans too!

Our top five hedge plant species in this category (this was a really hard choice because they are all so lovely) are:

  • Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) – with so many red haws in late autumn, the whole bush looks to be red coloured. Hawthorn is deciduous.
  • Pyracantha– a gorgeous evergreen with profuse red, orange or yellow berries
  • Cotoneaster franchetii (Franchet’s cotoneaster)- a lovely evergreen with sage green coloured leaves and plenty of red berries
  • Holly – the classic berrying hedge species. You’ll need to protect some bunches of berries with a bit of netting if you want to preserve some for Christmas decorations
  • Wild Cherry (Prunus avium) – grows cherry fruits which are too bitter for us but much appreciated by birds

And the additional list all worth a place in the garden:

There are very few species that can cope with standing water and unfortunately, no evergreens can cope with a really waterlogged situation. Normally we give our top five hedge plant species recommendations but in this case, we’re limiting ourselves to the best two which are:

  • Alder (Alnus glutinosa) – a very attractive leaf and male and female fruits which look completely different from each other and often stay on the tree most of winter as a deciduous hedge. It’s also really good for improving the soil by fixing nitrogen. Although it’s not one of the most familiar species for hedging, it’s well worth considering for wet soils prone to being waterlogged.
  • Willow (Salix capraea) – really good on the edge of water or very wet soils. Deciduous hedge with gorgeous catkins.

If the soil is wet but not waterlogged, there’s a bit more choice including some evergreens:

Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)
Dogwood (Orange, Red, Vivid Red, Yellow)
Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)
Juneberry (Amelanchier lamarckii)
Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) – Also evergreen
Portuguese Laurel (Prunus lusitanica) – Also evergreen
Spotted Laurel (Aucuba japonica Crotonifolia) – Also evergreen
Rowan or Mountain Ash (Sorbus acuparia)
Viburnum opulus (Guelder Rose)
Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata ‘Atrovirens’) – Also evergreen

Nearly all of our hedging plants will grow in partial shade and it’s very much the minority that cannot survive without sunshine, but there are some that perform well and some that will just tolerate shade. If shade is caused by overhanging trees, there can also be dry soil and this can cause as many problems as the shade. It is sensible in this instance to use RootGrow when planting to ensure that new planted hedging can reach what moisture there is in the soil and you need to be very diligent with the watering (really drench the plants occasionally to encourage the roots to go down deep to find moisture).

The best performers in shade tend not to be flowering species and since many berries are formed from flowers, that means that most will not produce berries, though there are exceptions and some species will flower and produce berries in shade.

Our top five hedge plant recommendations for shade or partial shade are:

  • Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) – one of our best selling hedging plants and good in shade – it’s evergreen, fast growing and has glossy bright green leaves which help to brighten a shady area
  • Yew (Taxus baccata) – a super quality dense dark green species which really likes shady areas – quite slow growing
  • Pyracantha (Firethorn) – prickly evergreen which normally produces profuse flowers and berries – Pyracantha will grow well in partial shade (not full) but flowering and berrying will not be so profuse in this circumstance, however it’s still a good option – fast growing
  • Holly (Ilex aquifolium) – another species which is really well suited to shade and will produce berries – prickly and evergreen and quite slow growing
  • Cotoneaster franchetii (Franchet’s cotoneaster) – one of the few flowering species which will perform in shade – this species has sage green leaves and pretty pink/white flowers like pearls and plenty of red berries – average growth rate

Others which are well suited to shade are:

In addition there are also a number of species that are fine in pretty heavy partial shade:

Alder (Alnus glutinosa)
Bamboo – Green (Phllostachys-bissettii) – also available in Black, Golden and Umbrella Bamboo varieties
Beech – Green (Fagus sylvatica)
Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)
Dogwood (Cornus) – Click to read our guide on all varieties of Dogwood
Elder (Sambucus nigra)
Escallonia – Click to read our guide on all varieties of Escallonia
Euonymus ‘Kathy’
Euonymus japonicus ‘Ovatus Aureus’
Field Maple (Acer campestre)
Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
Hazel (Coryllus avellana)
Holly – Silver (Ilex aquifolium ‘Argentea marginata’)
Juneberry (Amelanchier lamarckii)
Laurel – Spotted (Aucuba japonica ‘Crotonifolia’)
Lonicera nitida
Monterey cypress ‘Goldcrest’
Mexican Orange Blossom (Choisya ternata)
Photinia ‘Red Robin’
Potentilla Pink (Also available in white, orange and yellow flowering varieties)
Privet – Wild (Ligustrum vulgare)
Prunus x cistena (Purple Leaf Sand Cherry)
Rowan or Mountain Ash (Sorbus acuparia)
Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)
Viburnum opulus (Guelder Rose)
Viburnum tinus
Willow (Salix capraea)

When choosing species for windy sites, you need to think about whether you want an evergreen (which blocks the wind like a fence or a wall but can make the wind whirl over the top) or a deciduous species which filters the wind more gently, creating a more sheltered spot to the leeward side. The rule of thumb is that a good hedge on level ground will provide full wind protection for a distance of five times its height (so a 3m tall hedge will give full protection for 15m (50ft) on the leeward side). Then the wind protection reduces until the full wind speed is restored at a distance of 12 times the height of the hedge, so in the example of a 3m hedge, the protection applies to a reducing degree up to 36m from the hedge.

Our top five hedge plant species for windy sites are:

  • Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) – the staple of farmland hedging – even in very windy sites and will grow to 3m and above to provide good shelter
  • Leylandii (Cupressocyparis leylandii)– a full evergreen which is very fast growing and will grow very tall if adequately spaced. The golden version Leylandii Castlewellan Gold is also suitable for windy situations
  • Field Maple – a deciduous species which has gorgeous butter yellow leaves in autumn and is fast growing
  • Cotoneaster franchetii – a lovely flowering evergreen species with sage green leaves, and pink/white pearl flowers and plenty of red berries as well as being fast growing
  • Yew – (Taxus baccata) – a super quality dense dark green species which is quite slow growing

And the following hedge plant species are also suitable for fairly windy situations:

Plants are defined as “native” if they grew here before the formation of the English Channel. The benefits of planting with native hedging species are:

  • You can be sure they are acclimatised to UK weather conditions, and soils and have low maintenance requirements
  • Once established, native hedge plants usually withstand long periods of dry weather
  • Local plants are the essence of regional identity and preserve the character of the British countryside
  • They are the backbone of local ecology – insects, birds and other animals cannot survive without the food and shelter they provide

Our top selling native hedge plant species are:

  • Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) – there are millions of miles of this wonderful native deciduous hedging plant, which produces both flowers and haws, with the extra bonus of being one of the cheapest hedging plants we sell
  • Beech (Fagus sylvatica) – a semi evergreen which is very popular both to provide some winter cover in rural hedges and also as an upmarket urban hedge.
  • Yew – English (Taxus baccata) – one of the few native evergreens, used for centuries for beautiful hedging
  • Holly(Ilex aquifolium) – another of the very few native species which is also evergreen
  • Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) – this hedge plant is often used as a complementary species to Hawthorn in field hedging, is one of the first species to flower in April and produces blue/black sloes in autumn

And the other native hedging species are:

Alder (Alnus glutinosa)
Bird Cherry (Prunus padus)
Box (Buxus sempervirens)
Dog Rose (Rosa canina)
Elder (Sambucus nigra)
Field Maple (Acer campestre)
Hazel (Coryllus avellana)
Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)
Potentilla Pink – also available in orange, yellow and white varieties
Rowan or Mountain Ash (Sorbus acuparia)
Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)
Viburnum opulus (Viburnum opulus)
Wild Cherry (Prunus avium)
Willow (Salix capraea)

Hedging is very useful for forming low barriers in a garden, and sometimes low hedging is more suited than taller hedging; if the hedge length is short, if a tall hedge would take up too much width, if it would create too much shade or if it would be too difficult to maintain. Low hedging is also very useful to separate off areas without forming structural barriers e.g. around a vegetable garden. An alternative option which can create a very pleasing effect, is to plant a low hedge in front of a taller hedge of a different colour, or where one hedge is an evergreen species and the other is deciduous. For example a low Beech hedge in front of a tall Yew hedge looks fantastic with the copper winter leaves shown to their best against the dark background of the Yew.

Our top five hedge plant species recommendations for low hedging are:

  • Lavender (Several varieties including English, French and Hidcote) – an excellent and popular choice for low hedging. In summer with its full flower spikes, these species reach 80-100cm and in autumn they should be trimmed down to a low hedge of about 30/40cm tall. Stoechas is the smallest variety, followed by Hidcote and then finally the tallest is English Lavender.
  • Box (Buxus sempervirens) – this species would grow quite tall in time (about 2m) but because it is slow growing, it is very easy to keep as low hedging – anything from 30cm to 1m
  • Compact Laurel (Prunus lauroceraus ‘Otto Luyken’ – an evergreen with white flowers and dark green upright pointing leaves which is very good for hedging at about 1m
  • Potentilla – a deciduous flowering species which is available in a lovely range of colours and is very easy to keep trimmed at 1m
  • Lonicera pileata – this evergreen species has a slightly arching habit so it forms a wide bush, but it’s easy to keep to a neat shape. Good for hedging at 1m.

And others worth considering which are either compact varieties or are easy to keep as low hedges

Many of the medium height hedging species can also be kept as low hedges – just plant them densely and be aware that you’ll need to trim them a couple of times rather than just once a year.

This is the most popular hedging height that we are asked for and most species are suitable.

Our five most popular hedge plant species for this height of hedging are:

  • Cherry Laurel (Prunus lauroceraus) – fast growing and evergreen with glossy bright green leaves
  • Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium) – fast growing and semi evergreen, as well as easy to trim to a sharp shape
  • Beech (Fagus sylvatica) – a luxury hedge for urban settings with an average growth rate which is also good to add some winter semi evergreen colour to field hedging
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) – our top selling species, which is really inexpensive and has gorgeous flowers and red haws, as well as being deciduous
  • Escallonia – a very popular evergreen flowering species that is fast growing, with red, pink or white flowers

And the considerable list of others that are suitable for medium height hedging is:

Most of the species that are suitable for medium height hedging will grow taller, especially if you plant with fairly low density ie a good distance between each plant. That gives each plant more nutrients and moisture to promote growth.

Our most popular hedge plant species for tall hedging (all evergreens) are:

  • Leylandii – Green (Cupressocyparis leylandii) and Leylandii – Golden (Castlewellan Gold) – very fast growing species so this is an inexpensive way to grow a tall hedge. Looks great when trimmed regularly.
  • Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) – great for hedging up to about 5m providing there’s sufficient width for this bushy plant
  • Bamboo – Black(Phyllostachys Nigra) – great for tall hedging where there isn’t the width for bushy plants. Also comes in Golden, Green and Umbrella varieties.
  • Western Red Cedar – a conifer which is easier to keep than Leylandii because it can be trimmed back into last season’s growth
  • Yew (Taxus baccata) – quite slow growing so it takes a while to get there but this variety forms a super dense hedge

And the others to consider are:

Evergreen screens are a great way to ensure you have some privacy in your garden and can also be used to hide unsightly features and to create a property border that is much more attractive than a fence or wall. Evergreen hedging gives year round colour and cover, providing the ultimate living screen. And, as birds love nesting in the dense foliage, they can also help to turn your garden into a wildlife haven.

Here are our top five hedge plant species for evergreen screens:

  • Leylandii (Cupressocyparis Leylandii) – this fast growing species will provide you with a dense, evergreen screen in no time that makes a good windbreak whilst also reducing noise pollution
  • Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus ‘Rotundifolia’) – one of our most popular hedging species, Cherry Laurel, is the ideal choice for an evergreen screen as the large, glossy foliage makes an attractive aesthetic addition to your garden whilst providing both privacy and cover
  • Box (Buxus sempervirens) – this species offers very small, dense foliage which makes an attractive screen and as Box is slow growing, your hedge won’t require much maintenance to keep it looking neat
  • Photinia ‘Red Robin’ (Photinia x fraseri) – Photinia makes an attractive evergreen screen with the young, bright red foliage that appears in spring providing a colourful display
  • Yew (Taxus baccata) – known as the King of Hedges, Yew is a great choice for an evergreen screen as it has dense, dark foliage that takes well to pruning into a variety of different forms

Other plants for hedging that would work well as an evergreen screen:

Griselinia littoralis (Griselinia littoralis)
Beech – Green (Fagus Sylvatica)
Holly – English (Ilex Aquifolium)
Leylandii – Golden (Cupressocyparis Castlewellan Gold)
Lonicera nitida (Lonicera nitida)
Beech – Purple or Copper (Fagus Sylvatica ‘Purpurea’)
Privet – Green (Ligustrum Ovalifolium)

You can also take a look at our Ivy Screens for instant, evergreen screening.

As growing your own food becomes an increasingly popular trend, planting an edible hedge is the best way to get home-grown treats as well as a wealth of other benefits. Edible hedges provide all the features of a traditional hedge, such as privacy screening, evergreen foliage for year-round interest, intruder deterrent spikes, summer flowers and much more, all whilst supplying you with tasty, fresh food for free. Some edible hedges provide berries perfect for baking whilst other have aromatic foliage that can infuse your cooking with fantastic flavours. And, not only are edible hedges great for you, they hold huge value for wildlife supplying hungry birds with a much needed food supply over the winter months, so be prepared to share!

Here are our top five edible hedge plant species:

  • Rowan or Mountain Ash (Sorbus acuparia) – the bright berries that decorate Rowan may well be the best feature of this hedging plant, but the warm, red colour that bronzes the foliage in autumn and the ability to handle a wide range of planting sites come a very close second
  • Dog Rose (Rosa Canina) – this fast growing hedge plant offers flowers that open with a blush of pink and release a sweet, pleasant fragrance in summer. Tolerant of most soil types, Rosa Canina makes a fantastic dense hedge, and once you’ve tasted Rose petal jam, this will quickly become the favourite part of your garden!
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – classically found in herb gardens, Rosemary will add fragrance, texture and colour to your borders. As it looks best when left to grow naturally, it requires little maintenance; stealing sprigs for your cooking should be enough to keep it under control!
  • Crab Apple (Malus Sylvestris) – with something for every season, a Crab Apple hedge makes a great garden feature. And, as a native species, Crab Apple works wonderfully planted with other edible species to create a mixed hedge
  • Elder (Sambucus nigra) – the dark foliage of Elder adopts a buttery shade of yellow in the autumn providing seasonal interest and if planted in full sun, a Sambucus Nigra hedge will provide you with an abundance of Elderberries to experiment with in the kitchen
  • The following species would also make a wonderful addition to your kitchen garden:

    Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)
    Hazel (Coryllus avellana)
    Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
    Juneberry (Amelanchier lamarckii)
    English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
    Pyracantha (Firethorn) – Read our guide to the Pyracantha family of hedge plants with their colourful varieties
    Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)
    Wild Cherry (Prunus avium)

    Root Types Summary

    Bare Roots

    Field grown, bare roots are young plants that are only planted when they are dormant, from autumn to spring. We lift bare root plants and despatch them during the season but they can be pre-ordered in summer. As they are cheaper to grow, they are one of our most affordable hedge planting options.

    Pot Grown

    Pot grown plants can be planted year round and make a convenient option. They come in a wide range of sizes, from 10cm to 2.5m so they’re suitable for the majority of planting requirements.

    Root Ball

    Also field grown, root ball plants are scooped out of the ground using machinery to keep their root system intact and wrapped in bio-degradable, hessian sacks. They are mature plants that provide dense coverage very early on, ideal for when you need a thick hedge quickly.

    Instant Hedging

    Grown in troughs or bags that measure 50cm-1 metre in length and carefully clipped during the growing season. Our instant hegding troughs create a dramatic, instant hedge effect.

    Good Plants for Hedges

    21 September, 2020

    You can use nearly any kind of shrub to create hedges, but some are better than others depending on your landscape and how high of a hedge you desire. The best hedge plants are evergreen, providing year-round foliage for consistent privacy and interest. Select the correct hedge plants according to your climate, sunlight and soil conditions, as well as appearance preferences.

    Boxwoods (Buxus sempervirens)

    Boxwoods are evergreen shrubs that can grow 15 to 20 feet tall with a dense, multi-branched form. Boxwoods offer dark-green, leathery leaves that are fragrant and about ½ inch to 1 inch long. The leaves tend to turn a slight bronze color during winter in colder regions. Because they’re widely spreading, you can plant boxwoods as far as 10 feet apart to create a hedge. Plant the boxwoods in full sun to light shade, where they’re protected from cold winter winds and hot sun. Most boxwood cultivars cannot tolerate winter temperatures below -10 degrees F.

    Yews (Taxus baccata and T. cuspidata)

    Yews are one of the best hedge plants for colder climates, the Canadian yew (T. canadensis) being the most cold-hardy (ideal in USDA zone 2). Canadian yews are slow-growing evergreen shrubs that reach only 3 to 6 feet tall with lush, dark-green, needle-like foliage. Creating an informal, low-growing hedge, Canadian yews can grow in either full sun or shade, enjoying moist but well-draining and sandy, slightly acidic soils.

    Japanese yews (T. cuspidata) grow 10 to 40 feet tall and wide with reddish-brown, scaly bark. The Japanese yew is hardy down to only Zone 4, tolerating winter temperatures as low as -25 degrees F.

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    Chinese Privet

    The Chinese privet is an excellent low-maintenance shrub that creates a natural hedge of 6 to 8 feet in height. This hedge shrub has variegated leaves with mixtures of silver, green and yellow, as well as an ability to adapt to many different soil types. The Chinese privet is drought tolerant and requires little to no pruning. You can plant Chinese privets 6 feet apart in a row to create a hedge, either in full to partial sunlight. Chinese privets are best grown in warmer climates with mild winters that experience temperatures no colder than a minimum of 5 to 10 degrees F.

    Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

    Native to Japan and hardy down to USDA Zone 4 (minimum temperatures of -25 degrees F), the Japanese barberry is a twiggy shrub that can create a 3- to 6-foot-tall hedge when planted 4 to 6 feet apart in a row. Although it’s deciduous, the Japanese barberry provides year-round beauty with fine-textured, bright-green leaves in spring and summer that turn orange, red and purplish in fall. In winter, the Japanese barberry has bright-red, showy berries. You can plant a hedge of Japanese barberries in full sunlight to partial shade and in a wide range of soil types. This shrub can tolerate drought and extreme heat, but it cannot withstand continuously wet or soggy soils.

    Thuja Occidentalis ‘Green Giant’

    If you want to create a hedge or privacy screen quickly, the Thuja Green Giant is one of the best plant choices. This fast-growing evergreen tree can grow 3 to 5 feet in height each year, is drought tolerant and resistant to most diseases and insects. You can grow Thujas in nearly any type of soil and in direct or partial sunlight. If you plant them 5 to 6 feet apart in a row, the Thuja Green Giants will create a 20-foot-high hedge, but you can also shear them each year to keep them at a desired height. Thujas can grow in USDA zones 5 through 9, withstanding winter temperatures down to -15 degrees F.

    Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata)

    The Japanese holly is a dense evergreen shrub that grows 6 to 10 feet tall. Although slow-growing, the Japanese holly can create a solid hedge when planted 3 feet apart in a row. These holly shrubs can tolerate hard pruning or shearing, but requires planting in full to partial sunlight, in moist and slightly acidic soils, and in a spot that provides protection from dry winter winds. The best feature of Japanese hollies is the dark-green, shiny, lustrous leaves that are 1 to 2 inches long. This hedge plant grows best in climates where winter temperatures rarely get as cold as -15 degrees F.

    Junipers (Juniperus spp.)

    Many junipers are appropriate for creating hedges, due to their evergreen foliage and easy maintenance. The common juniper (J. communis) is a shrub-like tree with wide-spreading branches that reaches 5 to 10 feet tall and 8 to 12 feet wide. Its needle-like foliage is grayish-green to blue-green with blunt tips. The common juniper produces 1/3- to ½-inch-wide, bluish-black cones with waxy blooms that are used in flavoring gin. To create a hedge, plant these junipers about 6 feet apart in full sunlight. Common junipers can grow in a wide range of soil types, even poor soils, and is tolerant of high winds.


    Rhododendron species are evergreen shrubs with an added bonus, their showy, large flower clusters in shades of pinks and purples. The Catawba rhododendron (R. catawbiense) is especially good for creating hedges, growing 6 to 10 feet tall and wide with leathery, dark-green leaves. The lilac to magenta, 5- to 6-inch-wide flowers bloom in mid- to late May. Nearly all rhododendron species prefer moist, cool, acidic soils and partial shade to full sunlight, tolerating winter temperatures well below freezing. Azaleas are also species of rhododendrons and can create flowering hedges, but nearly all are deciduous.

    Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)

    Although a deciduous shrub that won’t provide a solid hedge year-round, the Rose of Sharon is a flowering shrub that grows 8 to 10 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide. This flowering shrub has medium- to dark-green, 2- to 4-inch-long leaves that are coarsely toothed and often glossy. The best feature is the Rose of Sharon’s large, showy flowers that bloom in shades of white, pink, magenta, blue or violet in July through September. You can plant these shrubs about 4 feet apart to create a hedge in full-sun areas of your yard, in nearly any soil type. Rose of Sharon plants are hardy down to -15 degrees F.

    How to Plant an Evergreen Hedge

    Updated: February 17, 2020

    How to plant an evergreen hedge. Learn the basics of planting an evergreen hedge. This article uses the yew as an example of planting a hedge plant but you will find other suggestions here as well to suit your garden.

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