Planting hedges (part 1 of 2)

Planting hedges (part 1 of 2)

With March around the corner there is just about time to plant hedges. When it comes to garden boundaries there are three main choices: walls, fences and hedges. Walls are attractive and they certainly last ages, if they are well made, but they are very expensive. They are also not necessarily the best way to shelter your garden from wind. Wind will be forced over a wall and this will cause eddying on the leeward side which may cause as much damage to plants as having no protection at all. Fences are the next option and are cheaper and quicker than walls, so very popular. But even without the worry of rotten posts after a decade or so, they need maintenance and, as we have seen in the past, windy winter, can be destroyed by storms. If you can bear the time they take to grow, hedges are a great option: they filter the wind, look great and they get better every year.

There is a wealth of plants that can make good hedges but some are better than others, depending on the height you want, their speed of growth and what soil and conditions they need. Having recently bought a new house with a completely empty garden I have had to plant lots of hedging so the subject has been on my mind a lot lately!

Ignoring low hedges, which can be anything from lavenders to box, there is then the chouce of evergreen or deciduous (that lose leaves in winter) hedges. Evergreens are popular, hence the infatuation with ‘Leylandii’ in the 1980s! But do not ignore deciduous plants because their branches can give screening and some even hold on to some leaves in winter. Lonicera nitida is good for hedges up to 1m high – it is not stable much above that height, and privet is good too but both need clipping several times a year – three at least to keep them neat. In mild areas and by the sea griselinia is superb. It is dull as a garden shrub but a perfect hedge but is not very hardy in upland areas – it thrives by the coast. Laurel is popular too but the large leaves are unsightly when cut with shears and it is best as a tall hedge. Yew is expensive but excellent and needs cutting just once a year, and unlike most conifers can be cut back hard if necessary. And don’t ignore holly either – slow but tough and tolerant of shade. All evergreen hedge plants are best planted as potted plants – not bare root. The ideal time to plant is April.

Deciduous hedging is usually planted as bare-root plants, dug from the soil and sold without pots or soil around their roots. As such they are much cheaper than potted plants but they must be planted soon after buying or delivery so the roots do not dry out. Bare root hedges, shrubs and trees must be planted while they are dormant, between November and March. It is not too late to plant now – in fact now is the ideal time, as they are about to start to grow.

Post written by our resident gardening guru Geoff Stebbings from www.thebikinggardener.com

Catch part two of this post:

Planting Hedges (part 2 of 2)

Embrace your inner gardener with Geoff’s enlightening advice and ideas.

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