Best Hedges for Shade – choosing the right hedging plants

Last Updated on 18/07/2023 by Barney

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

Whether it be shade hedging plants for something low and formal or a big hedge for privacy, there are plants for shade that will thrive & flourish, giving you many years of enjoyment.

Here are my recommended plants for shade to give glorious year round interest. (in no particular order of favouritism).

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

Best Hedges for Shade – my recommendations

  • English Yew (Taxus baccata)
  • Pyracantha (Firethorn)
  • Prunus luscitanica (Portuguese laurel, cherry laurel)
  • Euonymous japonicus ‘Green Rocket’

1. Taxus baccata (English Yew)

One of the best hedges for growing in deep shade

Common name : Yew, Common Yew, English Yew.

Latin name : Taxus baccata

Light level :  Full shade-Partial Shade – Full sun

Height : 1m to 2m +

Type : Evergreen

Soil type : Any apart from water logged

Maintenance : Yearly trim

Yew, a perfect choice for hedging plants for shade. 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 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 avoid doing any major hedge trimming in the height of summer.

Being able to tolerate full shade Yew makes a great hedge for shade here in the UK.

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

2. Pyracantha

Pyracantha make a great wildlife hedge for semi shade
Pyracantha hedge

Latin name : Pyracantha

Light level :  Partial 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 fast growing evergreen hedges for a partially shady to sunny spot in the garden.  With gorgeous white fragrant flowers in late spring through to summer followed by yellow, orange or bright 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 this hedge recommended by police for security.  Do not let this put you off though, it is a stunning flowering hedge.

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. Prunus luscitanica (Portuguese laurel)

Laurel is a fast growing evergreen hedge for shade
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 clipped .

Unlike the common laurel Portuguese laurel has smaller, dark green glossy leaves enabling it to the trimmed with those unsightly half cut, browning leaves you get on the larger leafed varieties. Portuguese laurel is a quick growing hedge (UK) creating dense screening if planted close together.

Prunus lusitanica is a magnate for insects, birds and pollinators. . With highly scented white flowers in early summer followed by purple berries this shrub is perfect for those wanting to attract wildlife into the garden.

4. Euonymous japonicus ‘ Green Rocket’

Euonymous Green Rocket makes a good replacement for Buxus in the shade

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 soil, clay (as long as not prone to waterlogging)

As small hedges that grow in shade Euonymous ‘Green rocket’ is 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, included is evergreen shrub Euonymous hedging plant. This is probably the closest species of hedging plant to give a similar appearance to box. Upright and compact with small, glossy green foliage l this hedge can be clipped into a formal style like Buxus.  

Euonymous japonicus ‘Green rocket’ will form a low hedge (max 1m high) and will not spread further than 60cm in width.

Green rocket is fairly slow growing so go for larger hedge plants if your budget allows. Being salt tolerant it is also good for coastal locations.

It’s a wrap from me

So, what is the best hedge for shade in your garden? The answer really depends on what you are looking for in a hedge. If you want a privacy hedge and year-round coverage, then evergreen edges are the best option. But if you are looking for something with more color and variety, then a deciduous hedge may be a better fit. Whichever type of hedge you choose, make sure to take into account the amount of sunlight your garden receives and plant accordingly. With a little bit of research and some careful planning, you can create the perfect shady oasis right in your garden.