Tina James is a Garden Designer with Nicholsons. She explains how planting hedges can help to create private ‘zones’ within our gardens. These living walls, with their natural screening powers, form pockets of peace and quiet within a wider landscape.

This article was previously featured on nicholsonsgb.com.

Hedges as natural walls

When I design gardens, no matter how big they are, I like to create paths and routes around the landscape. There is something magical about walking around the garden and seeing its evolution over different days and seasons. No two days are the same and, in a good design, there is always something emerging or waning. These subtle changes add intrigue to each trip around the garden. If space allows, I like to have a variety of routes so you can take a different journey back and see the garden from yet another angle.

Whilst meandering through pathways in a garden, there is nothing better than stumbling upon a hidden intimate space that blocks out the rest of the world. Hedges are one of the most effective ways of creating different zones in the garden. They screen out any areas you are less enamoured by in the garden and allow you to create secluded rooms with living walls. These little green oases will allow you to spend time outside in nature, whilst feeling cocooned by a smaller space. Using hedges in this way creates a little mystery in the landscape. Not everything is revealed at once, and this adds layers to the experience of walking around the garden.

Choosing the right hedges

Hedges last far longer than fences. They also have a wonderful aesthetic impact, and make great habitats for birds and wildlife.  Hedges act as a living windbreak and will shelter those areas of the garden where you are keen to reduce the wind flow. A relaxed seating area surrounded by a Taxus hedge provides shelter and makes the perfect setting for an afternoon cup of tea al fresco – even in windy weather.

Aromatic hedges, such as Lavender or Rose, are wonderful around sunny dining spaces, offering their delightful fragrance for all to enjoy and encouraging pollinators to visit the garden.

Taller hedges are ideal for screening off those parts of the garden you would prefer to stay out of sight, such as a utility area, compost bins or any unsightly buildings on the horizon. You can also use taller hedging to focus the eye on a vista or a specific feature in the garden.

The room outside

Gardens are natural extensions of our homes. For those who would love more rooms indoors, the garden provides opportunities for open-air alternatives. Using hedges for walls and privacy, you could create an outdoor dining area, lounge, den, cinema, garden room, gym, yoga, or painting studio. If you have the space, the opportunities are endless. Depending on location and individual courage level, you may feel an outdoor bathroom is one step too far – but for the risk-takers among us, it’s not impossible!


A skilled garden designer can help sculpt your preferred ingredients into a cohesive garden design. This will deliver more useable space and give your garden a sense of purpose.

View Nicholsons' range of hedging plants on their website. Alternatively, call their Plant Centre on 01869 340342 and select option 1 for more information. If you are interested in their Garden Design service, call to book an appointment on 01869 340342 and select option 2.

Nicholsons provides a range of professional services, including garden design, garden construction, garden maintenance, forestry and agriculture. They are based on a 23-acre site in North Aston, and also offer retail services including Rosara Outdoor Style and their Plant Centre.

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