A broadleaf evergreen hedge keeps it leaves most of the winter and therefore affords a visual barrier all year. This is particularly important if the purpose of the hedge is to ensure privacy but also contributes to the aesthetics of the area. Boxwood, privet, and barberry are commonly used in areas where winters are not severe but there are many beautiful shrubs that deserve consideration.

The five broadleaf evergreen shrubs described below vary in size, hardiness, and attributes. Some have showy flowers, others attractive berries, or both. They all have attractive foliage and can be made into a hedge that will enhance the garden.

Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium)
A native of the West Coast, Oregon grape was brought to the East Coast by the Lewis and Clark Expedition and has been grown along the Atlantic Seaboard ever since. Its shiny dark green leaves and pyramidal spikes of bright-yellow flowers in spring followed by light blue grapelike fruits in summer make it beautiful as well has useful shrub.

    Height: 3-10’
    Light: Partial to full sun
    Soil: Rich, moist, well-drained but tolerates less
    Hardiness: Zones 5-8

Chinese Holly (Ilex cornuta)
The shiny leaves grow densely on a rounded shrub and showy clusters of red berries are produced in the fall. The species name of this holly (cornuta from Latin cornus meaning horn) comes from the position of the spines on the leaves; the central spine points down where as the next two spines point up creating the look of a horn. The variety burfordi is well known and has drooping branches.

    Height: 8-25’
    Light: Full sun to part shade
    Soil: Average, medium to moist, well-drained, acidic
    Hardiness: Zones 7-9

Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus)
The large glossy leaves of cherry laurel make it a very attractive plant for a hedge especially if you like to make flower arrangements and need foliage. The long clusters of white flowers make a grand show in spring and producing a fine, fluffy texture.

    Height: 10-18’
    Light: Sun to part shade
    Soil: Rich in organic matter, moist, well-drained
    Hardiness: Zones 6-8

Chilean Pernettya (Gaultheria mucronata)
For winter interest consider Chilean pernettya. White to purple berries, ½” in diameter, are borne throughout the fall and winter. To produce berries, plants from two different strains are needed. It does not tolerate humidity well and does especially well in the Pacific Northwest.

    Height: 2-5’
    Light: Full sun to light shade; leaves may burn during the winter in full sun
    Soil: Average, moist, well-drained, acidic
    Hardiness: Zones 7-9

Oleander (Nerium oleander)
A native of the northern Mediterranean, northern Africa, southeast Asia, this fast growing shrub thrives in hot dry climates like that of Southern California where it is even found growing in difficult urban situations but does well in Florida too. The showy flowers appear in summer and come in white, red, pinks, and yellow. This is a beautiful and tough plant.

    Height: 12-20′
    Light: Full sun to part shade
    Soil: Poor to average, moist to dry, well-drained
    Hardiness: Zones 8-10

When using broadleaf evergreen shrubs to form a hedge, evaluate the site in terms of light and soil. Consider the height of the shrubs you are considering, and the purpose of the hedge. The key to success is to find a shrub that you like and will thrive in the environment you have to offer.

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By Karen