Hedges have been around since ancient marauders swept across Europe and came upon hedge thorn barriers used to discourage war horses. Modern gardeners don't have to worry about war horses, but a simple hedge, with or without thorns, can still discourage frisky pets and nosy neighbors. The hedge is a popular landscape technique for outlining paths and edging property lines, or to form a windbreak, fence or privacy screen. A good garden book or nursery can recommend a multitude of plants, ranging from dwarf boxwood to line a path to oleander to form a living fence.
But here is the insider's secret: It's possible to have hedge fun with colorful flowering plants like shrub roses, scented ones such as lavender or rosemary, or unexpected ones such as shrubby lantana.
You might even consider dwarf lemon trees. Planted close together in a straight line, then pruned to behave in a hedge-like manner, they create a scented barrier - with thorns - with the added benefit of yielding plenty of fruit.
Shrub roses planted in a tight row grow into scented mounds, bloom heavily through spring and summer, and need only minor pruning for next year's flowers. Rhaphiolepis is a medium-height faithful shrub with pretty flowers, while tall bottlebrush is billowy with lovely red flowers that attract birds and butterflies.
A hedge needs a decent watering system - drip or soaker hose - to assure even watering. You don't want a dead plant or two in the middle of the row. The other requirement is a good power or manual trimmer to keep the hedge well-behaved.
Fall is an excellent time to install a hedge so that the little plants put down roots while the soil is still warm. They will start their growth cycle in spring.