22/01/2015 10:48 GMT | Updated 23/03/2015 05:59 GMT

Don't Hedge Your Bets: Plant Now for Summer

Winter might be a time of stripped-back branches, but it's the perfect opportunity to get out and get fit planning and preparing your garden so it's an abundant oasis come Spring and Summer.

It might look stark and barren now, but this means you can review your space without distraction. Any gaps in your planting will now be obvious, any areas that need more structure exposed.

But you don't need to wait for warmer weather to get started. Winter isn't just bare branch season, it's bare root season - the time to snap up bare root hedging plants that will not only be in full flourish come Spring, but have a strong root system that will thrive for years to come.

Bare root hedging is only available during the dormant season - November to April. After this, most hedging is typically supplied as pot or cell grown plants. January is a great month to start thinking about what you want to achieve in your garden this year - with an added bonus of fresh air and exercise to work off the festive excesses.

But why are hedges so important to your garden? Hedges aren't just wildlife-friendly, they're the cement that holds a garden together, that define areas, boundaries and spaces. They're the foundation onto which everything else - flowers, bushes and shrubs - are built. It's why stately home gardens are so spectacular - a towering, neatly trimmed hedge is the defining, focal point for the whole garden scheme.

So how do you know which type of hedge to plant? Here's some useful advice about which hedge to choose:

What do you want your hedge to do? Do you want your hedge to act as a privacy barrier? Do you wish to divide an area? Consider the reasons for your hedge before you choose. Bare root Privet hedge plants, one of the most popular choices, are a fast-growing variety ideal for privacy that thrive in almost any soil or position, whilst the fruits of the bare root June Berry hedge are a favourite of birds if you wish to attract an abundance of wildlife. Cherry Laurel is evergreen for year-round interest reaching heights of up to 5m for privacy and wind protection.

How confident are you at hedge maintenance? Some hedges require more maintenance than others to keep them at their best. English Yew hedging - one of our few native species - is not only dense and evergreen but importantly, easily trimmed. It's the choice for many formal displays because it's so easy to shape and is slow-growing to maintain control.

Do you want hedge colour? Different types of hedges display a myriad of shades for garden interest. Beech hedging is one type that goes right through the colour spectrum. Native to the UK, it blooms with bright foliage in Spring that fades into shades of stunning coppery orange come Autumn. If lightly pruned in August, its leaves can remain for the majority of the Winter.

Do you want a static or moving hedge? Hedging isn't necessarily a solid statement. Hedging such as Photinia Red Robin isn't just favoured for its glossy, red leaves and evergreen properties but the fact it gives good movement in the wind.

Do you want hedging that adds a sensory touch? Lavender is the top low hedge choice for people who want to create a sensory garden, its delicate perfume and purple flowers are quintessentially English, attracting wildlife to your garden whilst you enjoy its fragrance.

Whatever type of hedge you prefer, what's important is that they're happy to thrive in your soil and planned position. Always check if your favoured choice is suitable and get advice from your supplier if you're unsure before you buy, so you create a hedging scheme that looks great all year round and is the ideal base on which your garden can bloom.