Planting hedges: step-by-step for a natural privacy screen

Whether for a view-blocking privacy screen or a design element for the garden: learn how to plant hedges properly with our guide.

A woman wearing STIHL Function SensoTouch protective gloves standing next to a green garden hedge

Overview: planting hedges

  • Where applicable, remove turf and weeds, and loosen the soil

  • Spread compost or planting soil

  • Mark the course of the hedge with a guide line

  • Dig the planting trench, and insert hedge plants at the correct spacing and depth

  • Fill up the planting trench, mound up earth around the plants, water well, and add bonemeal and mulch on top.

  • Cut back long plant stems by one third to one half

Planting hedges: preparation

Before planting your hedge, it’s best to plan where it will run as precisely as possible. When doing this, also take into account the size the hedge plants will reach in the years ahead. The following points cover all the key info you need to bear in mind.

Observing the required distance to the boundary line

If you want to plant hedges to enclose your property, consider the necessary distance to your neighbour’s boundary. Official distance requirements exist for hedges, and these differ from state to state. So before you get down to work, find out from your local public order office the minimum distance hedges must be from the property line in your municipality and what else needs to be kept in mind.

Often it also depends on the planned size of the hedge. In most federal states, for example, hedges up to two metres tall must be at least 50 centimetres away from the boundary. If you want to plant even taller hedges, a distance of one or even two metres from the property line is often required. Are the properties already separated from each other by a fence? Then the official requirements usually still apply. However, if you want to plant a hedge in a case such as this, the distance to the border, not to the fence, also applies.

Did you know? The distance of hedges from the property line is measured where the trunk closest to the border comes out of the ground. That means a hedge’s distance from a neighbouring property or the public road may appear smaller depending on you how late you trim your hedge.

Maintaining distance from other plants

If you want to plant hedges as space dividers or to enclose a seating area, official requirements are not an issue. It is nevertheless advisable to maintain appropriate distances from your other plants. As well as ensuring that the plants do not interfere with each other’s growth, this means you have enough space for optimum hedge maintenance. So to decide on hedge spacing, be guided on the one hand by the applicable boundary distance for hedges in your municipality, and on the other by the optimum growth conditions for neighbouring plants. Specimens that require a lot of light, for example, should not be placed in the shade of the newly created hedge.

Step-by-step instructions for planting hedges

Do you want to plant bare-root hedge plants? Then place them in a bucket or tub of water about an hour before planting the hedge. This will prepare the hedge plants as best possible. If you have hedge plants in pots, it is sufficient to immerse them in water until no more air bubbles rise, immediately before planting the hedge. Then you can start work.

Materials and tools needed to plant hedges

Tools for planting hedges, including the STIHL HSA 56 cordless hedge trimmer and the STIHL PG 10 secateurs.

Do you have everything thought out and planned? Then you can roll up your sleeves and start working. You will need the following materials and tools to plant a hedge:

  • spade or digging fork for heavy soil

  • Garden hose with spray attachment

  • Hedge plants

  • Wheelbarrow

  • Bonemeal

  • Coarse bark mulch

  • Planting soil

  • Wooden stakes

  • Tape measure

  • Guide line

  • Gloves

  • HSA 56 hedge trimmer

  • PG 10 secateurs

Planning hedge planting: natural made-to-measure privacy screen

As a natural alternative to fences and walls, you can plant hedges to enclose your property as you wish. Depending on which hedge types are suitable for you, you can create a custom-made boundary with comparatively little planting effort. From a decorative knee-height hedge to a view-blocking, natural privacy screen several feet high, there is plenty of variety in the hedges you can plant.

This variety means it’s also possible to use hedges to subdivide your garden individually. Consider this especially if you are newly planning and creating your garden or want to completely redesign it.

When should I plant hedges?

The best time to plant hedges depends on the particular hedge you want to put in place. Generally, bare-root, deciduous woody plants are best planted between mid-October and mid-November. Alternatively, the spring months of March and April are also good for planting hedges of this type.

A woman wearing STIHL Function SensoTouch protective gloves working with a spade to prepare for planting a hedge

If you want to plant evergreen hedge plants or conifers, do this either shortly before budbreak in April or, alternatively, after new growth stops in late August. This gives the fresh hedge plants enough time to grow well before winter.

Would you like to be as free as possible in deciding when to plant your hedge? Then perhaps a version in a planting container is the right choice for you. Because in containers you can plant hedges at any time of year.

The only things that should stop you planting in a container are frost or expected periods of hot weather. To avoid watering stress, spring or autumn are ideal. A planting container is ideal if you want to retrospectively repair a hedge that has holes. You can initially let the hedge plant grow in the container, and then plant it out later.

Your hedge maintenance equipment

Which hedge should I plant in which location?

To thrive and become the ideal view-blocking privacy screen, hedge plants need the location that is best for them, so you should make your choice of hedge plants with this in mind.

A well-maintained, green hedge bordering a garde

You can also plant low-maintenance hedges, such as yew or rhododendron, in a shady location. However, few hedges planted in full shade grow to be view-blocking and healthy.

If you want to plant hedges in a sunny location, there are many types of hedges you could consider. Depending on the height you want, you can plant hedges of cypress or arborvitae, or a number of other options.

For garden borders, boxwood hedges are as popular as they are practical. That’s because, when properly maintained, box grows to form a very successful view-blocking screen.

Planning the width and height of hedge plants.

A final planning point concerns the width and height of your future hedge, as this is how you determine how many plants you should plant per linear metre of hedge. Depending on the size and type of plant, you may need two to three, three to four, or even four to five plants per running metre.

For hedges up to 100 centimetres tall, it’s best to plan for three to four plants per linear metre; for hedges up to 250 centimetres high, you’ll need around two to three plants per linear metre.

STIHL professional tip: For free-standing hedges, only count the first hedge plant once for the first metre. For example, if you plant four hedge plants per running metre, you will therefore need five plants for the first metre and only four plants for all further running metres. This corresponds to a planting distance of 25 centimetres.

Do you want to plant bare-root hedge plants? Then place them in a bucket or tub of water about an hour before planting the hedge. This will prepare the hedge plants as best possible. If you have hedge plants in pots, it is sufficient to immerse them in water until no more air bubbles rise, immediately before planting the hedge. Then you can start work.