The 7 best fast-growing hedges to ramp up your garden's privacy

Hoping to grow a privacy hedge as quickly as possible? Look this way...

Sofa on a decked area beside a hedge, a gravelled area and lawn.
(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb Photography)

We know, we know: you're desperate to give hedging a go, but you just don't have time to wait for it to establish itself. Thankfully, though, we've rounded up some of the best fast-growing hedges for you to choose from – all of which embody that 'speed is of the essence' vibe you've been seeking. 

That's right: some of the very best hedging plants around don't require that all-important virtue of patience. In fact, there are more than a few which can give your garden screening ideas a boost in very little time at all.

'There are many fast-growing hedging varieties suitable for gardens of all sizes, but some grow faster than others so if you are looking for a dense, tall hedge that grows quickly make sure you know how much each plant will grow per year,' explains Morris Hankinson, director of Hopes Grove Nurseries

Morris Hankinson of Hopes Grove Nurseries
Morris Hankinson

Morris Hankinson is the founder and managing director of Hopes Grove Nurseries Ltd, the UK’s only specialist grower-retailer of hedging plants. He established the thriving business in 1992, shortly after graduating with a Commercial Horticulture Degree from Writtle College, Essex. 

'Some hedges can grow 1m per year or even more,' he continues. 

'If you start with bare root hedging plants, these will take longer to establish, but are cheaper to buy – or you also have options such as rootball, potted and instant hedging, which are bigger plants to give impact immediately.'

The 7 best fast-growing hedges

Keen to get started on making your hedging dreams a reality? Here, then, is our pick of the 7 best fast-growing hedges.

1. Leylandii

Forget wondering how big do leylandii grow; it's more how quickly they grow!

'Leylandii get a bad reputation but only because they grow so fast,' agrees Morris. 

'If you want a fast growing conifer hedge, then leylandii is the answer for many. This can grow up to 90cm per year and soon forms a dense, bushy hedge where wildlife can shelter and nest.'

Remember: leylandii has been known to grow up to 30m high and will need trimming two or even three times a year to keep it neat and tidy, so be sure to make a note of the best time to cut hedges if you decide to plant one at home.

2. Hawthorn

If you've been thinking about learning how to grow a hawthorn hedge, it's time to make good on those plans.

'Also known as quickthorn, common hawthorn is an English native which provides perfect habitat for many wildlife species,' says Morris, who says this is absolutely one of the best fast-growing hedges around. 

'The white flowers bloom in May, followed by edible berries loved by birds. And, as a thorny hedging plant, Hawthorn are ideally planted as hedging at the boundary of a garden for security.'

Morris adds that these hedges grow up to 60cm per year, so they are easy to maintain by trimming annually. 

'If left untrimmed, a hawthorn can grow up to 8m, but can easily be kept at 1m-5m as required.'

3. Thuja hedging

Much like the best fast growing privacy trees, thuja hedging is ideal if you have dreams of blocking your neighbours' view of your garden. 

'Western Red Cedar are great for giving coverage quickly, growing at up to 60cm a year,' says Morris. 

'Even with their fast growth rate they are easy to manage with one trim every autumn. They can be kept at any size from 150cm up to several metres. For a more formal look, a twice yearly trim will keep them in shape.'

Thankfully, thuja are very tolerant plants and easy to grow, making them ideal for even the very greenest of gardeners.

4. Berberis

One of those garden trends that can add value to your home, Morris notes that the berberis ottawensis ‘superba’ has 'gorgeous purplish coloured leaves, tiny yellow flowers in spring, berries in summer and red leaves in autumn', making it a brilliant way to add some interest to your outdoor space all year long. 

'It’s a deciduous hedge that looks great at the back of the border with its prickly thorns,' he says, 'but it needs to be pruned after it’s finished flowering in the spring.'

Dubbing it an easy plant to grow and care for, Morris adds that the berberis ottawensis ‘superba’ variety can grow up to 60cm per year (so double that of some other berberis varieties) and can grow to a maximum height of 2.5m.

5. Hornbeam

Whether you want to use it as part of your garden border ideas or as a privacy screen, hornbeam is a popular choice for many gardeners. 

'It looks great all year round due to its bright colours and will grow in most conditions,' says Morris, noting that hornbeam can grow up to 30m in height and live for over 300 years.

'This means that hornbeam hedges require consistent maintenance to keep them in good shape,' he adds. 

'They can be maintained as a hedge from under 1m to 5m and established hedges can be trimmed once in late summer. For a formal look, they can be trimmed twice.'

6. Maple

Field maple hedges are yet another of those hedges that are considered great for wildlife – which, considering a wildlife garden could boost your property value by 39%, is nothing to be sneezed at.

'These fast-growing, deciduous hedging plants are native to the UK, making it a great addition to British gardens,' says Morris. 

Noting that it can be used as a hedge in isolation or combined with other species to create a wildlife friendly native hedge, Morris adds that field maple hedges can grow up to 30-60cm in height each year to a maximum height of 5m. 

'Maple is easy to maintain and has bright, colourful leaves,' he promises.

7. Alder

Looking for an easy win? 'Alder is deciduous, produces pretty catkins in springtime., and thrives in almost any situation – including those places where other hedging might not thrive, such as clay and wet soils,' says Morris. 

Noting that the common alder can grow over 12m high and as wide as 8m, Morris adds that this can take over 20 years. 

'In general, alder will grow up to 1m per year,' he says.


What are the fastest-growing hedges for privacy UK?

If you need a privacy hedge grown quickly, Christopher O'Donoghue of Gardens Revived suggests something like the cherry laurel from Crocus.

'This pretty hedge fits into most environments well, as you can use it in garden borders or flower beds as well as more industrial areas,' he says. 

'It's incredibly versatile and very easy to manage. And you can cut it right back if it gets too big without causing any problems – they'll grow right back!'

Are hedges better than fences for privacy?

There are pros and cons to using both fences and hedging for privacy.

'Fences offer a more immediate solution to privacy,' says Christopher, 'but they can be costly, may require planning permission, and will likely need replacing every 5-10 years.'

Hedges, on the other hand, may be slower to install, but they are often cheaper in the long run. 'You will, however, need to factor in maintenance costs,' he adds.

So, now that you know the best fast-growing hedges around, which will you be introducing to your garden? 

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.