No backyard is complete without a hedge. They offer plenty of benefits, such as privacy and security.
Hedges can also be used to create designated areas in your garden, known as garden zones. Even better, they are a haven for wildlife, and act as a barrier to noise, creating a more peaceful home and garden.
Edible hedges offer these great benefits while providing plenty of produce at the same time. This is especially useful for smaller gardens that don’t have the space for a full-blown vegetable patch.
There is a large selection of edible hedges, suiting different climates and garden designs. Regardless of whether you choose one edible hedge or a handful, you won’t regret adding them to your space.
Pomegranates are old, Middle Eastern natives that have surged in popularity in recent years. They produce bright orange-red fruits in the right climates. These fruits aren’t only delicious, but they’re full of history. Many ancient cultures used them for various ills and ailments.
Pomegranates make eye-catching hedges with bright green leaves branching from unique trunks.
Their branches are filled with suckers, ultimately creating a seemingly impenetrable, dense hedge. The branches are also lined with thorns, making them a great security hedge along boundary walls.
Pomegranate hedges are generally worry-free, with very little chance of pests and diseases disturbing their hedging duties. You could have trouble with whiteflies, pomegranate butterflies, and thrips.
Diseases are rarer than pests, but unmaintained pomegranate hedges encounter leaf spot, root dieback, and fruit spot. The best way to ensure a healthy, happy pomegranate hedge is to keep up with general plant maintenance and care.
Pomegranate hedges grow in a variety of climates but prefer hotter, drier areas, with cool winters. They’re hardy in USDA zones 7 –10 but some cultivars can tolerate freezing temperatures. While this hedge tolerates partial shade, it’s best planted full sun.
Pomegranate fruits are juicy and have an interesting flavor. They can be eaten off the vine or used in several dishes. Pomegranate’s refreshing juice is often used in soups and other dishes. The edible seeds are used as a garnish or seasoning.
Berries are usually the first things to come to mind when thinking of edible hedges, with blueberries first on the list. With their easy-going nature and delicious berries, it’s easy to understand why they’re amongst the most popular berries to grow.
Most blueberry bushes grow to about six feet tall, but some varieties can grow even taller. Their sheer height makes blueberries the perfect screening hedge. Their simple, oval-shaped leaves look like traditional hedge foliage, allowing them to blend easily in your landscape.
While blueberries are low-maintenance, they need full sun to reach their towering heights and to produce a fruitful harvest. Blueberries also have very specific soil needs: well-draining, organic-rich soil with a low pH between 4.5 and 5.5. Blueberries thrive in USDA zones 3 – 9, depending on the variety.
As long as their needs are met, your blueberry bush will reward you with larger harvests each year. Blueberries make wonderful additions to several meals and snacks, like salads, shortcakes, and yogurt.
While elderberries aren’t as popular as blueberries, their easy-going nature and density make them a decent rival. They offer interest through many seasons, with the beautiful cream blossoms emerging in late spring and the berries appearing towards the end of summer and into early fall.
Elderberry hedges reward the bare minimum care with a large harvest every fall. Elderberries also sport small, elegant baby pink blooms that attract a myriad of pollinators and other wildlife to your garden.
Elderberries aren’t seen as typical hedging plants, but their sheer height makes them the perfect privacy and windscreen. Depending on the variety, elderberry bushes can grow anywhere between 10 and 30 feet tall.
While its height makes it a wonderful hedging option, elderberries are typically seen as messy-looking plants. Many consider them gangly, but their interesting foliage, stunning flowers, and dappled bark make them an ideal addition to any garden.
Elderberries are hardy in USDA zones 3 – 9 and grow best in full sun. They are relatively thirsty plants and need plenty of water to thrive.
Elderberry flowers and berries have several uses in and out of the kitchen. Both have several medicinal uses, with many claiming they help boost the immune system. The flowers are often used to infuse oils and alcohol, while the berries make delicious syrups and jams.
Rosemary is a herb garden staple, but many don’t realize this Mediterranean native can grow to create a wonderful hedge.
Related Reading: How To Plant A Rosemary Hedge (& 10 Reasons Why You Should)
Certain upright varieties make better hedges than others, such as the ‘Tuscan Blue’ and ‘Lady in White.’ These varieties can grow as tall as 6 feet and anywhere between 2 and 3 feet wide.
Rosemary bushes are extremely dense, making them excellent privacy screen hedges. They also act as a decent windbreaker, blowing you away with sweet fragrance instead. Rosemary sprigs are extremely versatile in the kitchen, making them a unique and highly useful edible hedge.
Rosemary is an evergreen perennial that can easily live for years with little worry. However, it can be susceptible to powdery mildew. This common fungal disease crops up due to high humidity and bad air circulation. To prevent this, ensure there is adequate spacing between the plants and avoid watering the foliage.
Related Reading: How & When To Prune Rosemary For Huge, Bushy Plants
Rosemary is hardy down to zone 8, thriving in hot climates with moderate humidity levels. They’re also relatively drought-tolerant plants and can flourish in poor quality soil if it’s well-draining.
Rosemary’s main use is in the kitchen as a herb. But you can use its durable branches for several arts and crafts projects. To see what you can do with rosemary, take a look at these 21 Brilliant Uses For Rosemary You Probably Never Considered.
Hazelnut is the perfect edible hedge. They don’t mind a bit of neglect, growing well in most conditions. There are several varieties of hazelnut to choose from, but the American Hazelnut (Corylus americana) is unbelievably easy to care for.
Hazelnut plants are dense shrubs that grow to about 10 feet tall, easily becoming a screen for privacy and protection. Some varieties and members of the hazelnut family grow even taller than the American Hazelnut.
Hazelnut hedges don’t have many downsides – they’re disease resistant, cold hardy, and continue to flourish with little care. American Hazelnuts self-pollinate too, so you’ll only need one variety for a fruitful harvest. However, their fast growth does mean they’ll need plenty of pruning to achieve the desired hedge shape.
Planting hazelnut in full sun is ideal for optimal flower and nut production. They thrive in USDA zones 4 – 8, depending on the variety. Hazelnuts are also one of the few hedges that can thrive in poor conditions, ideal for barren parts of the garden where other plants struggle to grow.
Hazelnuts have a range of uses in and out of the garden, other than just being a stunning hedge. They provide shelter and food for wildlife, increasing your garden’s biodiversity.
In the kitchen, they’re often used in desserts and snacks, like cookies and truffles. Hazelnuts also add a unique nutty flavor to pesto, pasta dishes, and salads.
Like hazelnut, chestnut provides a wonderful hedge that is both ornamental and edible. There are several varieties of chestnut, although Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa) is the most common hedging chestnut tree. The sweet chestnut is native to the Mediterranean.
Given the time, chestnut trees can reach towering heights. This takes decades, so you don’t need to be too concerned about having a 100ft tall hedge. It responds well to pruning, making it a great edible hedge option. Sweet chestnut also has handsome, large leaves that form a dense barrier for privacy.
Unfortunately, they tend to cause a mess in the garden. When their delicious nuts are ripe, the burred capsules pop open and drop them to the ground. So, you’ll need to gather the nuts from the ground come harvest time. Be careful – the burrs are sharp.
Chestnuts are also susceptible to fungal diseases which cause leaf wilt, fruit dieback, and cankering of trunks. The best way to mitigate potential problems is through frequent pruning and maintaining good garden hygiene.
Chestnuts thrive in USDA zones 5 – 7, loving full sun but tolerating some shade in hot climates. They’re relatively thirsty plants, too, flourishing in moist but well-draining soils.
Like the hazelnut, chestnuts increase your garden’s biodiversity as they attract and provide shelter for several wild animals.
In the kitchen, chestnuts are extremely versatile, making the messy garden and difficult harvest well worth it. They’re a welcome addition to roast dinners, pasta, and pastries. Chestnuts are also great in desserts, like mousses and cakes.
Fruiting quince makes a wonderful addition to your garden, especially as an edible hedge. Its yellow fruit is delicious, a cross between an apple and a pear. Quince also creates a wonderful spectacle throughout spring when its pretty blossoms are on full display.
There are two types of quinces, the fruiting quince (Cydonia oblonga) and the Japanese quince (Chaenomeles species). Japanese quince is more often grown as an ornamental feature, but it also produces fruit, although it is smaller and more tart.
Quinces make wonderful screening hedges with their dense foliage. They can grow anywhere between 5 and 10 feet in width and height. Quince responds well to pruning, especially if done in winter.
Quince self-fruits, but to improve yield, you will need more than one tree. This will encourage cross-pollination, resulting in a much larger harvest. Japanese quince also has thorned branches, making it a better option for those seeking some added security.
The only drawback to Quince trees is their susceptibility to fire blight, a bacterial disease affecting numerous fruit trees. Its symptoms include oozing cankers on wilting and discolored leaves and orange-pink streaks on the bark of the tree. Unfortunately, there is no cure for fire blight. Both chemical sprays and natural remedies only prevent the disease from spreading. Infected limbs should be pruned away and burned.
Despite its chance of contracting fire blight, quince trees remain a wonderful option for an edible hedge. It’s generally a low-maintenance tree, thriving in low-quality soils, and is drought tolerant once established. It’s hardy in USDA zones 4 – 9 and is highly adaptable.
Quince fruit is often used in jams, jellies, and pies. The tartness of Japanese quince makes it a great lemon replacement.
8. Wild Pear
Wild pear trees are considered short trees, making them a wonderful candidate for an edible hedge. It’s also a beautiful tree, with stunning white flowers that steal the show every spring. It remains a feature in fall too when the glossy green leaves turn golden or orange.
Wild pear tree branches and twigs are lined with thorns, creating an impenetrable barrier for added security. They’ll be sure to keep intruders out, whether they’re human or pests.
As with most flowering plants, it attracts aphids, spider mites, and whitefly, all of which are easily managed. Natural horticultural oils are a great deterrent, but note they can deter beneficial insects from taking up residence in your garden.
Wild pear is hardy in USDA zones 4 – 9. The best place to plant your wild pear hedge is in the sun as it requires at least six hours of sunlight a day. Wild pears have moderate water needs once established, but younger trees need frequent watering.
Raw wild pears are hard and acidic and generally unenjoyable, but once cooked or dried, they become far more versatile. In this form, they’re often used in cakes, and when marinated, they ‘pear‘ perfectly with meat.
Blackberries are another true berry that makes a wonderful edible hedge, especially as they produce plenty of deliciously sweet fruits. Adding to their charm is their easy-going nature and adaptability.
There are several blackberry varieties, all of which make wonderful hedges. Their dense foliage creates the perfect privacy screen. Some varieties, like Kiowa, have thorns, which adds some security.
Unfortunately, a few varieties aren’t likely to bear fruit in the first year. Luckily, some cultivars can produce fruit earlier. These are known as primocane-bearing and fall under the ‘Prime’ series.
Blackberry hedges can attract a few diseases. These are easily preventable by purchasing healthy blackberry stock, maintaining good garden hygiene, and planting them away from wild brambles.
Blackberries prefer full sun but will appreciate some afternoon shade in hot climates. They’re hardy in USDA zones 5 – 8, preferring moderate climates. Excessive cold and moisture, along with extreme heat and dryness, are highly unfavorable.
Blackberries are delicious, fresh snacks, but these fruits are also great in jams and preserves.
10. Bay Trees
Bay trees have become popular hedging plants and it’s not hard to see why. They have a wonderful, garden-filling aroma and are extremely hardy.
Bay laurel is native to the Mediterranean and is regarded as one of the oldest cultivated trees. Its shiny, dark green leaves are a scrumptious addition to several meals.
These delicious leaves are usually extremely dense, creating the perfect barrier for prying eyes. While not typically grown for their flowers, bay trees do bloom in early spring, producing pretty yellow flowers. However, their main allure is their uniform look throughout the year and aromatic smell.
Bay laurel thrives in USDA zones 8 – 10. Generally, these trees prefer full sun and well-draining, organic-rich soil.
Bay leaves are highly versatile in the kitchen. You can infuse them to create a delicious bay leaf oil or add dry leaves to several dishes. They’re common in curries and stews but can be added to roasts and even bread.