How to choose, plant and maintain a hedge

When Martyn Loach moved into his present house, the hedges that surrounded it were an added bonus. The hawthorn and laurel provided privacy, a refuge for wildlife and security. They were a living boundary, easy on the eye when changing with the seasons.

Created by Martyn Loach on Wednesday, 26th of August, 2015.


hedge

Except for deteriorating, a wooden fence doesn't change much, they are inanimate and uninteresting compared to a hedge that gives a garden such a strong living backdrop.

Plenty of Choice

If you're planting a hedge, there's plenty of choice. Evergreens such as my laurel or yew are best for all year around privacy, use thorny hawthorn and spiky holly for security. Beech has attractive golden foliage in the autumn but is deciduous and left unchecked will grow very high (approx. 40ft), while privet is semi-evergreen and reaches only 15ft. 

Informal hedging takes up more room and wouldn't be suitable for a small garden. Any tallish shrub, flowering or with attractive foliage, can be used such as a butterfly friendly viburnum or escallonia that both reach about 10ft in height, the latter has a mass of fragrant pink or crimson flowers from June to October. 

Mixing species in both formal and informal hedges can be particularly striking. Think about hedges formed from native species such as hawthorn, blackthorn, privet or holly and look around where you live to get an indication of what grows best in the prevailing soil conditions.

Buying and Planting

Plants can be bought as 'whips' that establish rapidly, bare rooted plants (only suitable for planting in the winter months) or container grown (the more expensive option). Evergreens and conifers are often sold with their roots in sacking and should be planted in the spring or autumn.

Convinced by my enthusiasm, a friend of mine asked for help planting a hedge last year.

We started by digging a trench about 2ft deep by 3ft, breaking up the sub soil. Next we put down a layer of manure and compost and then, after refilling with the top soil, added blood, fish and bone. 

We should really have left the soil to settle for about a fortnight, but only had the time for a cup of tea, before planting the container grown cypress. The last thing to do was water well and mulch. 

Maintenance

The 'problem' with hedges is that they need a fair amount of attention to grow thicker and stronger. Like any other shrub, hedges need a spring feed and organic matter mulch and then there is the cutting to consider.

With large hedges it can be hard work for someone not in the first flush of youth, so it's best to give this due consideration when thinking about the type of hedge you want. 

Informal and faster growing varieties need two cuts a year, the first probably in June after any nesting birds have fledged. I always wait until the autumn to cut my slower growing laurel, by which time the hawthorn needs another trim. They then look perfect for the winter dormant season.

Shears are the traditional method of cutting hedges but I soon found that electric trimmers are the best, that's if you don't want the noise and fumes of petrol models. I do it by eye but you may want to use a length of string to obtain a straight edge. Remember that tall hedges should start wide at the bottom and then narrow to the top.

With hedges you need to plan plan carefully and choose wisely. Are you looking for privacy or security, evergreen or deciduous, thorns or flowers. Then consider the soil and situation and whether it can it be maintained easily. Good subsequent management will then ensure a garden feature that is both useful and attractive.

Related Articles

Plants That Are Poisonous For Pets

Plants That Are Poisonous For Pets

Enthusiastic gardeners who are also pet owners may be surprised to learn that many of the plants they grow are toxic to cats and dogs. David Hall has been reading a recent report detailing the dangers.

Author: David Hall

Written by David Hall.
Published on Wednesday, 8th of July, 2015.

Keeping Hedges In Shape

Keeping Hedges In Shape

Whether you just have a hedge on one side of your garden or, like David Hall, a garden with laurel hedges on all sides, they will need to be pruned to retain their shape and density.

Author: David Hall

Written by David Hall.
Published on Wednesday, 26th of August, 2015.

Why Our Front Gardens Should Be Green Not Grey

Why Our Front Gardens Should Be Green Not Grey

Suburban gardens, once the well kept privet edged pride and joy of the majority of householders, are rapidly becoming paved over according to a recent report from the Royal Horticultural Society that Nathan James Dodd has been reading.

Author: Nathan James Dodd

Written by Nathan James Dodd.
Published on Tuesday, 19th of May, 2015.

What Do Hedgehogs Eat In Your Garden?

What Do Hedgehogs Eat In Your Garden?

Do you love hedgehogs? Gardeners are supposed to love hedgehogs because they voraciously eat large quantities of slugs and snails. However recent research indicates that this might not be the case.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Friday, 24th of January, 2014.

comments powered by Disqus

RSS

View RSS Feed

Author

Martyn Loach

Editor in Chief

View Profile

Follow Us!

Recent Articles

How To Make An Insurance Claim For Garden Storm Damage

How To Make An Insurance Claim For Garden Storm Damage

With high winds increasingly affecting most parts of Britain, many people are likely to be contacting their insurance companies regarding damage caused to sheds, greenhouses, fences and other garden property. Robert Hall explains how GardenSite can help with an insurance quote and claim.

Author: Robert Hall

Written by Robert Hall.
Published on Monday, 28th of March, 2016.

Forest Launch Noise Reduction Fence Panels

Forest Launch Noise Reduction Fence Panels

With gardens becoming smaller, neighbours closer and roads busier, we all suffer from different types of noise pollution. But, as Andy Taylor reports, Forest have now come up with a new kind of fencing that minimizes this nuisance.

Author: Andrew Taylor

Written by Andrew Taylor.
Published on Monday, 30th of January, 2017.

February Gardening Jobs

February Gardening Jobs

Although gardening activity in February may not be so frenetic as during the summer months, there's still plenty to be done and Spring is just around the corner. Nathan James Dodd suggests the jobs you should be tackling in the garden this month.

Author: Nathan James Dodd

Written by Nathan James Dodd.
Published on Monday, 30th of January, 2017.

February Pond Maintenance

February Pond Maintenance

Dan Everton helps you look after your pond during the February with some tips on the precautions you can take to avoid the water freezing over, and advice on keeping fish at this time of the year.

Author: Dan Everton

Written by Dan Everton.
Published on Monday, 30th of January, 2017.