What's New? Soft Structure.

What's New? Soft Structure.

As we reported in our 2017 trends report, there’s a move toward a blend of structural form mixed with wilder, less restrained elements. This “I want to live here” garden (it belongs to Vogue editor Anna Wintour) with its mound of lightly clipped boxwoods that meet a meadow-like front lawn is just what we’re talking about.

One of the easiest way to get this style is with hedges and masses of shrubs that look as impressive either left unsheared or lightly sheared as they do tightly clipped. You get all the benefits that hedges provide–height, scale, privacy, wildlife magnet–without the impact of formal, horizontal lines.

Here are a few shrubs that’ll give you this kind of seductive soft structure.


Emerald Colonnade® Holly

A handsome male evergreen holly with a natural pyramidal form creates a superb hedge, screen or windbreak when planted in mass. Reaches up 12 ft. tall and 8 ft. wide. Full sun. Zone: 7 – 9


Bright ‘N Tight™ Carolina Laurel

Exceptionally handsome, shiny, deep green foliage has a tidy, clean appearance. Adapts well to occasional pruning to control size and form. Reaches up to 10 ft. tall and 8 ft. wide in 10 years. Partial to full sun. Zone: 7 -11


Icee Blue® Yellow-Wood

The first podocarpus tree with distinctive blue foliage! One of the most beautiful and decorative pyramidal conifers for the South. Excellent screen or hedge. Slow to 25 ft. tall and wide. Partial to full sun. Zone: 9 – 10


Dwarf Alberta Spruce

A perfect cone-shaped dwarf conifer displaying dense green needles which are soft to the touch. Plant a line of them for a sturdy, thick hedge. Reaches up to 8 ft. tall and 5 ft. wide in natural form. Partial to full sun. Zone: 2 – 8


Golf Ball Kohuhu

Where boxwood is a bother, this is a perfect waterwise, fuss-free sub. Provides year-round beauty and natural rounded shape that seldom needs pruning. Reaches up to 4 ft. tall and wide. Partial to full sun. Zone: 6 – 8


Green Mountain Boxwood

Upright, cone-shaped habit makes it an excellent candidate for mass planting to create a free-form or shaped hedge. Moderate grower, reaches 5 ft. tall, 3 ft. wide. Partial to full sun. Zone: 4 – 9

See this entire garden (it’s amazing); Lead image credit: Ricardo Labougle

Get the Look


Euonymus japonicus 'Silver King'
Item #3520
Variegated Hedge Plant


Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Golf Ball' Plant Patent #15,329
Item #1658
Compact and Easy Care


Laurus nobilis 'Monem'
Item #2147
Flavorful Culinary Seasoning


Viburnum tinus 'Compactum'
Item #7600
Flowering Hedge Plant


Prunus laurocerasus 'Anbri'
Item #1909
Handsome Hedge Plant


Ilex x 'RutHol1' Plant Patent #23,905
Item #9265
Versatile Evergreen Shrub


Prunus caroliniana 'Monus'
Item #6700
Attractive Evergreen Hedge


Podocarpus elongatus 'Monmal'
Item #8655
Dramatic Foliage Color


Picea glauca 'Conica'
Item #6462
Year-Round Interest


Buxus x 'Green Mountain'
Item #1382
Handsome Evergreen Hedge