Hedge cotoneaster (Cotoneaster lucidus) grows 6 to 10 feet tall and produces a full rounded shape that makes it a low-maintenance hedging option. Hedge cotoneasters grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 2 through 6, where they produce pink flowers in spring, deep green foliage in summer, and red berries and autumn leaf colors in fall. They can also tolerate alkaline soils. Although low-maintenance, cotoneasters aren't maintenance-free. Proper care and management ensures that they produce healthy and attractive growth suitable for an informal hedge.
Plant cotoneaster hedges in an area that receives full, all-day sun and has well-drained soil. Space the hedges 6 to 10 feet apart to account for their mature width; the closer end of the range allows the hedge to fill in more quickly.
Water cotoneasters during periods of prolonged drought if the soil begins to dry completely, providing enough water to moisten the soil throughout the root zone. Cotoneasters tolerate dry soil for short periods without suffering stress, but they produce the healthiest growth in moderately moist soil. Hedges planted near garden beds or lawn areas typically receive sufficient moisture from regular landscape watering.
Apply lawn and garden fertilizer to nearby landscape areas at least 10 feet away from the base of the cotoneaster hedge. Avoid direct applications of fertilizers, especially those containing nitrogen, near the hedge, because this can increase the chances of disease. Cotoneaster doesn't usually require direct fertilization because it receives enough nutrients from residual fertilizer runoff from nearby lawn and garden beds.
Prune cotoneasters lightly for shaping in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Cotoneasters rarely require pruning because they develop a symmetrical natural shape suitable for an informal hedge, but they can tolerate severe pruning. Wipe the shears with an alcohol-soaked cloth after each cut to prevent the spread of disease or pests. Trim out dead, broken or crossed branches, cutting them back to the nearest healthy wood. Cut back overgrown branches to a visible bud.
Cut back any branches that die, become stunted or develop oozing cankers, which all indicate a fireblight infection. Disinfect the shears after each cut if you are pruning when the plant is actively growing, and dispose of the removed branches. Cotoneasters subjected to overfertilization or frequent pruning are more prone to fireblight.
Spray cotoneasters with an insecticidal soap spray if mites, aphids, scale or other small sap-sucking insect pests begin feeding on the underside of the foliage and along the stems. Dilute 2 tablespoons of insecticidal soap in a gallon of water, and drench affected leaves with the spray to destroy the insects. A second application four to seven days later is sometimes necessary to kill all the pests.