Alan Titchmarsh talks hedging again – this time he gets down to the nitty-gritty of hedge planting and then champions the unique and  majestic Yew…

Autumn Planting at Hedge Xpress


Yew 100-125cm

£33.95 exc. VAT

 “Don’t think that it will take a desperately long time to grow a stunning new yew hedge – it’s a myth.”

When Titchmarsh talks hedging, it’s well-worth listening…

The best time to plant a new hedge is in the autumn but a hedge is only as good as its roots so good soil preparation is essential. Mark the area out and dig a trench.

For a dwarf edging make it a foot deep and as wide, while for a taller hedge it should be at least 18-24in in each direction.

Work plenty of well-rotted organic matter into the bottom. Now put in your plants. For a traditional hedge a double row is best, with plants spaced 15in to 18in apart in staggered rows. For dwarf edgings plant a single row six to eight inches apart so the gaps fill in quickly. For a screen, plant a single row of shrubs 15in to 18in apart…

Soak the roots in water for a couple of hours before planting and spread them out well over the base of the trench before in-filling it with good soil and well-rotted organic matter.”

“The secret of success with hedges is not to be too impatient. Hard though it sounds, cut a new hedge down to 18in or so immediately after planting it.

Then, while it’s growing to its full height, feed and mulch well every spring to boost growth and keep “tipping” the new shoots so the plants branch out regularly instead of shooting straight up.”

Recently, we’ve embarked on a mini campaign to remind people that while the Yew is definitely a special plant, it does not require special gardeners to grow it. Nor is it the reserve of the highly skilled when it comes to topiary. Given the matter-of-fact way he talks about Yew below, I think we can say he agrees:

“Don’t think that it will take a desperately long time to grow a stunning new yew hedge – it’s a myth. On well-prepared ground it will put on 9in to 1ft a year. And you can have fun with it by shaping the top into “battlements” or cultivating topiary “finials” at each end.

The huge advantage of yew hedging is that you can keep it very narrow – as little as 12in to 18in wide – so it won’t take up much room….”

Alan Titchmarsh’s many books are available online and in the high street.