Perfect Lavender Hedge: Spacing & Variety Tips
Creating a lavender hedge can be a rewarding and beautiful addition to any landscape. With their stunning purple blooms and delightful fragrance, lavender plants make for an elegant accent in an outdoor space. However, to achieve a full, healthy lavender hedge, proper planning and care is required. In this guide, we’ll walk through key considerations for planting and maintaining the perfect lavender hedge.
Choosing the Right Lavender Varieties for Hedges
When planning a lavender hedge, one of the most important factors is selecting varieties that are well-suited for hedging. There are over 40 different lavender species, and some are better choices than others for creating a continuous, uniform hedge.
One of the most popular options is English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). This hardy, fragrant perennial grows in compact mounds that can be shaped and pruned into tidy hedgerows. The blooms are violet-blue on tall stalks, offering a blanket of color when the hedge is in full flower. English lavender thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. Some excellent English lavender cultivars for hedges include:
Hidcote - One of the most widely available English lavender varieties. It has deep violet flowers and stays compact.
Munstead - Features silver-gray foliage and abundant lavender blooms on shorter stalks. Grows 12-18 inches tall.
Twickle Purple - A sturdy English lavender that produces masses of rich purple blooms in early summer. It has excellent weather resistance.
French lavenders (Lavandula dentata) work beautifully for hedges as well. They are known for their finely cut, fringed foliage that gives them a unique texture. They grow in rounded, bushy mounds and flower later than English lavenders, extending the bloom season into late summer. Recommended varieties include:
Goodwin Creek Grey - Stunning gray-green foliage and pale purple blooms. Grows 24-36 inches tall and wide.
Fringed Lavender - Feathery green and silver foliage with deep violet blooms. Attractive even when not in flower.
Spanish lavenders (Lavandula stoechas) can also make excellent hedging plants. The have showy “rabbit ear” flower bracts atop the blooms in shades of purple, pink or white. They are heat and drought tolerant once established. Consider these varieties:
Otto Quast - Large purple bracts on 18 inch plants. Fragrant gray-green foliage.
Kew Red - Brilliant red-purple bracts on green foliage. Compact growth to 24 inches.
Determining Optimal Lavender Spacing
Proper spacing is crucial when planting a lavender hedge. Planting the lavenders too close together can result in overcrowding as the plants mature, while spacing them too far apart will lead to unsightly gaps. Focus on the projected mature size of the plants to determine optimal spacing. Here are some general spacing guidelines:
12-18 inch spread: Space plants 12 inches apart
18-24 inch spread: Space plants 18 inches apart
24-36 inch spread: Space plants 24 inches apart
Measure the spread of the specific lavender varieties you select, and use the low end of their expected mature spread for spacing. It's better for new plantings to be slightly crowded at first rather than too sparse. The plants can be lightly pruned and shaped as they fill in to achieve the desired hedge density.
Also keep in mind that lavenders planted in rows closer than 3 feet apart will compete with each other as they grow. Allow enough room between hedge rows for easy access and maintenance.
Preparing the Planting Area
Lavenders need proper site preparation and care to thrive as hedging plants. Here are some key tips for getting the planting area ready:
- Lavenders require full sun - at least 6 hours of direct sun daily
- South or west facing sites work best
- Avoid planting lavender hedges in shade or under large trees
- Lavenders prefer fast-draining, sandy or gravelly soils
- Improve drainage in heavy clay soils before planting by amending with compost
- Ensure soil pH is slightly alkaline, between 6.7-7.3
- Shelter new lavender hedge plantings from strong winds, which can dry plants out
- Use temporary fencing, plant on the leeward side of buildings, or provide a windbreak with other plants
- Remove all weeds from the planting area
- Cover area with landscape fabric or mulch to suppress weeds
- Avoid using plastic sheeting, which impedes water and air flow to roots
Taking these steps to create the optimal growing conditions will give lavender hedge plants the best chance of thriving.
How to Plant a Lavender Hedge
Once you have chosen appropriate lavender cultivars and prepared the growing site, it's time to get your hedge planted! Follow these steps for proper planting technique:
- Dig holes the same depth as the pot or root ball and 2-3 times wider
- Space holes according to your planned plant spacing
- Loosening the soil at the base of each hole improves drainage
Setting & Backfilling
- Carefully remove each plant from its container
- Place into hole at original soil depth
- Backfill holes with native soil, avoid amendments which can settle over time
- Water thoroughly after planting to eliminate air pockets
- Plant remaining lavender hedge plants in evenly spaced rows
- Water all plants immediately after planting and as needed until established
- Apply 2-3 inches of organic mulch such as wood chips or gravel around plants
- Avoid mulching right up against the stems
- Replenish mulch annually
With the lavenders planted at the proper spacing in prepared soil, they will be ready grow together into a thriving, beautiful hedge!
Lavender Hedge Growing Tips
Patience and attentive care in the first couple years after planting will ensure your lavender hedge gets established properly. Here are some key growing tips:
- Water hedge plants 1-2 times per week during the first season, aiming for 1 inch total weekly
- Soak soil thoroughly to a depth of 8-10 inches
- Install drip irrigation to simplify watering
- Gradually reduce frequency after establishment
- Lavenders have low fertility needs
- Apply slow release organic fertilizer at planting
- Avoid heavy feeding which can cause leggy growth
- Only fertilize established plants every 2-3 years
- In first year, prune lightly in spring to shape plants
- Beginning second year, prune annually in early spring
- Trim plants back by 1/3 to shape and stimulate new growth
- Remove spent flowers through the season to encourage reblooming
Weeding & Cleanup
- Apply fresh mulch around hedge plants in early spring
- Pull weeds as they emerge to prevent competition
- Cut back foliage in late fall when plants are dormant
- Remove any dead branches or woody growth
Avoiding Common Mistakes
There are a few pitfalls to be aware of when cultivating a lavender hedge:
Planting Too Close Together
Plants spaced too tightly will compete for resources as they grow larger. Leave adequate room between plants based on their expected mature spread.
Insufficient Draining Soil
Wet soil leads to root rot in lavenders. Ensure the planting site has fast draining soils, or improve drainage before planting.
Cutting lavender hedge plants back excessively can damage growth and flowering. Never prune into old wood and avoid shearing tops.
Lavenders are drought tolerant once established. Water too frequently or heavily and roots may rot. Allow soil to dry between waterings.
Planting in Shade
With insufficient sun, lavender foliage will become sparse and flowering will be reduced. Always choose a site with 6+ hours of direct sunlight.
By avoiding these common errors, your lavender hedge will get off to the healthiest start possible!
Enjoying the Benefits of Lavender Hedges
Besides providing a gorgeous visual statement, lavender hedges offer many benefits that make them a joy in any garden:
Fragrance - Lavender's sweet floral aroma permeates the garden when the hedge is in bloom. Breathe deep for a soothing, relaxing effect.
Pollinators - Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds flock to lavender's nectar-rich blossoms, adding life to the garden.
Culinary Use - Clip fresh lavender flowers or foliage to add enticing flavor and fragrance to recipes.
Dried Lavender - Bundle and dry the fragrant blooms to create potpourri or use in DIY crafts.
Low Maintenance - Unlike boxwood or other hedging plants, lavenders don't require frequent trimming or shearing.
Choose from the many splendid lavender varieties and plant with proper techniques for a thriving, productive hedge that adds beauty and sensory delights to your landscape for years to come. With its waves of colorful blooms and lovely scent, a lavender hedge truly feels like summer made permanent!
A lavender hedge is a wonderful landscape feature when planted with care using well-suited varieties. Allow enough space between plants for the lavenders to develop full form. Prepare the planting area with full sun, well-draining soil and wind protection. Plant in neat rows, water diligently, and prune annually once the hedge is established. Avoid common errors like overcrowding, wet soil and excessive pruning. With the right planting methods, soil preparation and ongoing care, a lavender hedge will flourish, creating a breathtaking purple spectacle in the garden. Let enchanting waves of lavender color and fragrance enhance your outdoor living space for years of beauty and sensory delight!