Whether you are looking to delineate special areas or zones within a garden, create a smart boundary or looking for an architectural crisp and geometric garden, a well-manicured formal hedge will do all of these jobs admirably. The hallmark of a formal hedge is its neat, tightly clipped straight edges, key features in many gardens worldwide.
Creating these crisp clean edges takes work and time but gives an enormous amount of pleasure once trimmed, being very aesthetically pleasing to the eye. As well as providing a good formal boundary to a garden offering privacy and character, they can also provide a sharp back drop for informal planting often seen in cottage gardens.
When selecting the correct hedge plant for a formal hedge is important to consider the ultimate height you are looking to achieve and ensuring that the plant will take regular pruning well which is often required on a regular basis. Cutting straight edges by eye is not an easy thing to do and there are tricks to help such as, running a cane along the ground, putting stakes in at intervals along the hedge and even the use of a plumb line. When pruning the blades should always be kept parallel with the hedge, starting from the bottom of the hedge upwards so that the foliage falls away aiding in a smooth cut being achieved producing a neat outline.
There are a multitude of plants used in formal hedging, most will have a smaller leaf or needles which help to create a fabulous result. Yew and box are two of the most commonly used but the choice is far wider with Privet, Beech, Hornbeam, Berberis, Euonymous, Holly, Thuja, Ilex Crenata and Lonicera to name a few more.