Pleached Hornbeam

Pleaching – Hedge Craft Made Simple

Pleached Hornbeam

Pleaching is a method of interweaving living (and dead) branches to create a hedge. A hedge that will be as effective a barrier as it is a joy to behold…
Pleaching requires patience and care but the technique is easily and readily mastered:

Pleaching made Simple

• Young, supple hedging plants are planted in winter in single or parallel rows 1.20m apart
• Allow 2.40m – 3.00m  between rows to create a pathway
• Build a framework of vertical stakes strung horizontally with wire or cord to train new shoots
• In summer, tie in young growth. Plait laterals with those of adjacent trees to fill gaps
• Prune back unnecessary outward-growing shoots to one or two buds from the base during autumn and winter. Pinch out leading growths
• Once the branch system has formed, cut back shoot growth every summer to retain the shape. If the hedge is being grown for foliage, prune back to a single bud
• When the hedge is established and sturdy, remove the supports
• Branches in close contact may form a natural graft. This is called inosculation

History of Pleaching

The technique can be traced to the Romans. One Gallic tribe used pleaching to create anti-cavalry barriers! The technique was adopted by farmers to enclose livestock and delineate their land.
By the late medieval period, it was also a common feature in gardens. Shaded paths, arbours or simple living walls remained popular until the early 18th century.
Although famers maintained Pleaching for practical purposes, it was not until the middle of the 19th century that pleaching returned to the domestic landscape. Today, it is enjoying somethibg of a revival.

Suitable Plants for Pleaching

• Hedges: Beech, Hornbeam, Chestnut, Ash and Lime
• Pleached Walks Lime, especially Tilia platyphyllos ‘Rubra’
• Arbours and Covered Walks: Laburnum and Wisteria
• Compact Fruit Trees: Apple and Pear