If your garden is calling out for the drama and utility of a flowering hedge, a hydrangea might be the answer! Hydrangeas are dense enough to provide a boundary, both physically and visually. They produce enough blooms to bring big impact beauty to any space, no matter how long the hedge is or how small the space is!
Unlike adding a shrub here and there, planting an entire hedge takes a bit more planning. The specific plant you choose will dictate a lot of the steps below. If you need help choosing the right hydrangea, check out our Hydrangeas Demystified resources here. If you haven’t chosen a hydrangea yet, don’t worry, we have one as an example.
Hydrangea Hedge Spacing
There are two different styles you can plan for – continuous or undulating. With either, you’ll use the plant’s mature width range as a guide to determine how far apart your plants should be. Let’s use Incrediball® smooth hydrangea as an example. It generally grows to be a minimum of 4 feet wide and a maximum of 5 feet wide, with yearly pruning.
If you like the look of a steady line, use the minimum number of the mature width range as your planting distance. Position the centers of each plant that number of feet apart. Using Incrediball as our example plant, the centers are 4 feet apart.
You can plant them closer together to get a very dense wall look, but don’t plant them more than one foot under that minimum number. They could rub together and be difficult to prune. Using our example plant, that’s 3 feet apart.
If you’d still like to see the general shape of the plants, use the maximum number of the mature width range as your planting distance. Position the centers of each plant that number of feet apart. Using our example plant, the centers are 5 feet apart.
You can plant them even farther apart, but if it’s more than one foot over the maximum number, they won’t really touch. Using our example plant, that’s 6 feet apart.
Hydrangea Hedge Planting
Preparation is everything! If you’d like to plant your hedge in a perfectly straight line, plan to use some stakes, a string, and a measuring tape before you get the shovel out. You’ll:
- Put two stakes in the ground, one just past each end of your proposed hedge.
- Tie a string between the two stakes. Make sure it is very tight.
- Decide where you want one end of your hedge to start. From that point, measure half of the mature width of your plant in and put a stake there (using our example plant, that is 2.5′ from the end of the bed). Position the stake directly under the string. That marks where the first plant will be.
- From that first stake, use the plant spacing number you decided on in the step above. Position the stakes this width apart, all under the line.
If you’d like the hedge to curve, you’ll do almost the same process. You’ll just need a garden hose (they are flexible, but hold shape better than a string).
- Lie a hose on the ground in the shape you’d like the hedge to be.
- Follow steps 3+4 from above, just put the stakes in the ground on one side of the hose.
When it comes to actually digging the hole and putting the plant in, you’ll use the same method we recommend across the board. Check out this quick 45 second video for a refresher.
Hydrangea Hedge Care
All hydrangea hedges should be inspected for broken or rubbing branches in the late winter or early spring. It’s easiest to do this while the plants are leafless, but you can remove a problematic branch at any time. Beyond that, different types of hydrangea need different types of yearly care! So, the general care expectations for each hydrangea type are grouped below. When in doubt, reference your plant’s tag or online profile.
- Panicle and smooth hydrangeas – prune back by 1/3 in the late winter.
- Bigleaf, mountain, and oakleaf hydrangeas – deadhead when dormant in late fall or late winter.
Need a little more inspiration? Take a look at our famous Incrediball smooth hydrangea hedge and get tips on how to create this exact look in your own garden.