Hedging Plants in Containers (I)

Not every garden has the ground or soil for a hedge, but every garden, front and back, can be home to Hedging Plants…
A couple of years ago, a friend moved to a smallish 1960’s bungalow that, like so many others, has disproportionately large gardens at the front and back. Unfortunately, the back garden had been well and truly concreted over by a previous resident. His original plan was to dig it out but it quickly became apparent that not only was the concrete spread with unnecessary generosity, it had been spread over the original developer’s landfill that contained the rubble from the entire site on which he had thrown up six new homes. There was only a cursory layer of soil between the two layers. Short of getting in the heavy mob in with JCBs, the only solution was containers and raised beds. Fortunately, when done well, growing Hedging Plants in containers is no second best.
And if you want the full hedge effect, then a closed row of hedging plants (Yew, Hornbeam, Privet, Beech etc.) in identical containers will do the job…
First, a few basic recommendations…
• Buy the right container
We’ll look at the many options for style and materials in more detail in subsequent posts, but, whichever material and style you choose, buy the best quality your budget will allow. Always go for frost/rust free – cheap, under-performing containers don’t last and having to replace them after two or three seasons is an expensive waste of money.
• Drainage
Drainage is essential – ensure there are drainage holes and that you put in a good layer of crocks, grit or similar at the bottom. Dense pebbles work well and add ballast to help stability.
• Mulching
Top dress with a good quality mulch every autumn. Every two-three years, it is worth replacing the top few inches of the soil with fresh compost in early spring. When this is done, you won’t need to feed for another couple of months that season.
• Water
Container-grown Hedging Plants need regular watering – in dry, hot spells you will have to get the hose out regularly. The smaller the pot, the more likely they are to be dried out by the sun and wind – especially if they are made of a porous material like unglazed terracotta. Also, overhanging foliage can prevent rain from reaching the compost so don’t assume that if it’s wet outside, your plant(s) is getting the benefit.
When watering, fill the container to the rim, let the water trickle through then repeat. This will ensure the compost is thoroughly soaked.
Deciduous or semi-deciduous plants like Beech and Hornbeam rarely need watering during winter – evergreens, though, might.
The tips continue in our next post….