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Crafted from a wide variety of plants, today’s hedges assume forms from low and serpentine to sculptural and monolithic. Modernists added perennials to the hedge list, using rows of grasses to define properties or create screens. Hedge-coveting pragmatists opt for a fast-growing mix of shrubs like viburnum, clethra, and hydrangea. These plants reach 10 feet tall in less time than it takes to grow a medium-size yew and offer a The Wind in the Willows hedgerow effect. Lovers of the classics still gravitate toward a single straight line of deciduous or evergreen trees (for those concerned with privacy), which creates the vertical oomph of a great wall. Contemporary designers borrow a trick devised by Victorians—creating “tapestry hedges,” consisting of a visually interesting mix of trees and shrubs in various shades.
Above: At an East Hampton, New York, property, mature arborvitae planted in an undulating row sets a visual note that is echoed in the shape of the bench and the mowing pattern of the grass.