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Los Angeles, CA

When one thinks of the LA streetscape, images of strip malls, billboards and 8-lane highways might come to mind. But if you veer into most neighborhoods a different type of street architecture emerges — that of the hedge.

The hedge is ubiquitously used as a physical and symbolic demarcation for property and ownership across the world, but LA’s mediterranean climate and social class divisions brings this to something of an extreme. While ultimately planted for privacy, these hedges have the potential to become multi-story symbols of wealth and class in some parts of the city — particularly in places like Beverly Hills and Bel-Air — where private parcels are larger than most and plentiful enough to form whole neighborhoods — block after block — of this green hedge-itecture. A large house might typically be a symbol of status, but here it becomes the size and curation of the hedge that creates an air of mystery and exclusivity. The classist undertones are certainly enough to give us pause, but the unique physical result of these green-walled streets always brings a smile to our faces when driving through.

And it’s not all about the wealthy. This type of hedge architecture can be found all around the city in more fun and modest ways. A hedge might overtake a gate to form the appearance of a door in a wall, fill a small strip of land between a building and sidewalk to appear as an extension of the building itself, or marry seamlessly with a stone wall to create a beautifully striated street corner. The hedge is a living thing that grows and changes over time, it has the ability to be scruffy or highly curated to the level it not only reads like architecture, but provides a lot of the benefits of architecture: privacy, shade, noise-barrier, etc. What’s more, it helps clean our air, is often drought tolerant, and smells great! Sign us up.