How to grow a pleached hedge

What is pleaching?

Pleaching is a landscaping technique that involves planting a row of trees, usually in a straight line, and weaving the branches together along a support framework to produce attractive living fences. This technique has been used since the late medieval period and has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years in the form of hedges on stilts.

What are the benefits of pleached hedges?

As pleached hedges are reasonably robust, they offer the same benefits as a tall stone or wooden fence would, such as providing privacy, acting as a windbreak, and creating a sound barrier. However, the natural beauty and versatility of hedges makes them the superior choice when it comes to embellishing your land.

What are the best trees for pleaching?

Although most trees used for pleaching are deciduous, with common lime’s being the traditional choice, if you opt for evergreen trees they will provide cover all year round. Photinia shrubs are a popular choice for an evergreen hedge due to their striking red colour which looks stunning, particularly in spring. A cherry laurel is another evergreen option to consider if you’d prefer a pleached hedge with bright green, shiny leaves. Hornbeam or beech trees are also a strong choice as although they are not evergreen, they will retain their dead brown leaves throughout winter.

The process

Before you commit yourself to growing your own pleached hedge it’s worth knowing that some garden centres sell them ready-made, and although these do still require upkeep, they can save you a lot of labour at the beginning.

Assuming you’d like to grow your own pleached hedge from scratch however, here’s what you’ve got to do:

  1. Plant your trees in holes that are double the size of their root balls, and between 4-8ft apart. Surround them with plenty of compost.
  2. Create a support framework of stakes alongside each tree trunk, with wires leading between trees to encourage.
  3. During growing season, weave together the lateral branches with those of the trees on either side and tie in new growths to the framework with string.
  4. Any shoots that grow outwards in the direction you don’t want should be pruned back.
  5. Pinch out leading growths to encourage bushiness.
  6. In December, cut back the new growth into the shape that you want, and loosen any ties which have become too tight.
  7. A second yearly pruning should also be done in June or July to keep the trees looking neat all summer.

If you’re looking to redecorate your exterior spaces and would like guidance on growing a pleached hedge, contact Hedge Xpress on 01993 850979. We’ll offer our expert tips to help you grow the perfect pleached hedge for your garden size and situation.