Best Hedges for Shade

Hedges are wonderful at enclosing and dividing spaces, a perfect alternative to popping up  6ft fences everywhere . You might be wondering what are the best hedges for shade however if your garden does not receive much in the way of natural sunlight.

 Deciduous or evergreen, formal or informal, a hedge offers much more than than a green boundary that divides areas or gardens

Hedges offer the perfect environment for birds to nest in, insects to hide and hibernate in, absorb pollution, reduce noise  and are a perfect foil for fabulous planting schemes.

When it comes to planting a new hedge that will be positioned in a shady area in the garden, care should be taken to choose the correct species to suit to situation the hedge will be planted in.

Whether it be a low formal hedge or something taller, there will be a species and variety that will flourish, giving you many years of enjoyment.

Planning a new hedge in a location that receives no sunlight? If so, in my experience there’s only one hedging plant to consider, Yew (Taxus baccata)

Here are my recommended species and varieties (in no particular order of favouritism).

All of my suggested best hedges for shade can be trimmed and grown in shade with nothing more than a decent set of hand held garden shears.

1. English Yew

Common name : Yew, Common Yew, English Yew.

Latin name : Taxus baccata

Light level :  Full shade to full sun

Height : 1m to 2m +

Type : Evergreen

Soil type : Any apart from water logged

Maintenance : Yearly trim

Yew is an absolute gem of a hedging plant. It is probably the only hedging plant that will tolerate all planting conditions (apart from constantly wet soil) It will do equally well in full shade to full sun so a perfect candidate if you are planning a run of hedging that part will be different light levels.

Being evergreen it is the perfect backdrop to planting, a good nesting place and perfect wind break. Yew is also very good at tolerating urban pollution so should be considered for front garden hedges.

Being fairly slow growing maintenance is a matter of keeping in shape once a year. Yew does not mind being trimmed any time of the year but I would avoid doing any major hedge trimming in the height of summer.

Maintenance. Keep neat and tidy with  hedge shears  or electric / battery / petrol hedge trimmers. Avoid hedge trimming though around bird nesting time.

2. Pyracantha

Pyracantha hedge

Latin name : Pyracantha

Light level :  Semi shade to full sun

Height : 1m to 2m +

Type : Evergreen

Soil type : Well drained, moist but well drained, clay (as long as not prone to waterlogging

Pyracantha and its many varieties make fabulous evergreen hedges for a partially shady to sunny spot in the garden.  With gorgeous white  flowers in late spring through to summer followed by yellow, orange or red berries that last right through into late winter. This hedge is one for seasonal interest.

Now, this plant is not called “firethorn” for fun. It does have rather fierce thorns which is probably why it is the number one hedge recommended by police for security, protecting your boundaries from unwanted intruders.  Do not let this put you off though, it is a stunning hedge when in flower and fully of berries.

Pyracantha is also a great hedge for wildlife. Offering protection from predators, food for birds in winter and a safe nesting place.


Nothing more needed than a tidy up of wayward shoots after flowering.

3. Laurel

Laurel hedge

Common name : Portuguese Laurel

Latin name : Prunus lusitanica

Light level :  Full shade to full sun

Height : 1.5 m to 5m +

Type : Evergreen Soil type : Well drained, moist but well drained, clay (as long as not prone to waterlogging

Portuguese laurel is, in my opinion, the standard laurels better looking sibling. Often over looked in favour of the common variety, Prunus lusitanica makes a gorgeous formal hedge if kept tidy. Unlike the common laurel Portuguese laurel has mush smaller, darker leaves enabling it to the trimmed with those unsightly half cut, browning leaves you get on the larger leafed varieties.

4. Euonymous

Common name : Euonymous

Latin name : Euonymous japonicus ‘Green rocket’

Light level :  Partial shade to full sun

Height : Up to 1m

Type : Evergreen

Soil type : Well drained, moist but well drained, clay (as long as not prone to waterlogging)

The  perfect replacement hedge for Box (Buxus)  for a semi shaded position. You’ll notice I am not including box in my list of best hedging plants for shade. Reason? Box blight!

So, I am including this attractive, evergreen Euonymous hedging plant that is probably the closest species of hedging plant to give a similar appearance to box. Upright and compact with small leaves this hedge can be clipped into a formal style like Buxus.  

Euonymous japonicus ‘Green rocket’ is a low hedge (max 1m high) and will not spread further than around 60cm is width. Green rocket is pretty slow growing so go for larger hedge plants if your budget allow. Being salt tolerant it is also good for coastal locations.