Which Hedge Is Right For Your Garden?
The Hedge Xpress Hedge Guide will first help you to decide which hedging or edging plants best suit your garden both horticulturally and aesthetically; then show you how to give your new plants the best possible start.
We will be happy to discuss and advise on your project (please call 01993 850 979 or fill out our online contact form), but the following should, at least, get you started.
NB: Trade Enquiries from professional gardeners, landscapers etc. are also welcome. Just call the same number.
Hedging Plants .v. Fence Panels
“Good fences,” the saying goes, “make good neighbours.”
But good fences are also expensive (up to four times the cost of hedging plants particularly if they are erected by a contractor); prone to wind damage and rotting even if pre-treated and require regular and somewhat tedious maintenance if they are to last.
Hedging – the obvious and natural alternative – has many advantages beyond offering much better value. Whether you are screening off an area of your own garden or marking a boundary, a hedge will be far more pleasing to the eye and attract wildlife including nesting birds.
Of course it will need an annual haircut but this should require a few minutes with clippers and rake rather than several hours with brush and chemicals, hammer and nails. And remember, many lower-cost insurance policies exclude the replacement of damaged fencing.
Just about any variety of tree, shrub or bush can be used for decorative hedging but if a hedge also has a job to do, then a more considered choice has to be made.
Which is where we come in…
We only grow and sell varieties that will thrive in the UK’s climate and soils. So, whether you are looking to create a full or partial visual screen, a windbreak, an actual physical barrier or to raise the height of a stone wall; whether you want your hedge to grow to 2m or 4m+or whether your preference is for evergreen, semi-evergreen or deciduous, we can offer a carefully selected choice proven to be up to the task.
Getting The Best Out Of Your Budget
Whatever your budget, the quality of the plants you choose ultimately determines the value you get. Cheap bare root and root ball plants are widely available but generally have a significantly higher failure rate than container grown plants which is why we only offer offer certain lines as root ball – please see below for a more detailed explanation..
Yes, container plants do cost more but they actually offer the best value, especially for the more impatient. You are, after all, paying for the years of the nursery’s professional care and constant attention – even one of our smaller container grown plants will have been inspected over 250 times – well over 500 times for our largest specimens. And they will have been expertly watered, fed and trimmed.
And trimming in the early stages of growth is vital to ensure our plants are well formed with the necessary side branches to grow into a good hedge. Young plants left alone and allowed to grow as a single shoot may put on height initially but will then require pruning and you’ll lose a full season’s growth.
For those with greater patience or a tighter budget, smaller container-grown plants will be the obvious choice – and the good news is that they will establish quickly and you can plant, say, a 10m Yew hedge for under £200.
Bare Root, Root Ball or Container Grown?
Though hedging can be purchased as bare root, root ball or container grown plants, we decided earlier this year, after a great deal of consideration, to stop supplying bare root with the exception of native hedging. Why? Quite simply because our tests and customer research revealed an unacceptable failure rate. The problem is that bare root plants are prone to damage at every stage:
Stage One – Initial Planting
Because the whole point of bare root plants, is their low price, they have to be planted close together – too close, in fact, and the plants quickly become too tall for their bed. They are effectively being forced and while this is fine for rhubarb, it’s not so good for hedging plants. The plants are consequently weakened and when they are pulled from the ground, they are prone to root damage. This, in turn, can prevent the plants from growing from the base once in their new home.
Stage Two – Transit
Regardless of their state when they leave the nursery, bare root may not travel particularly well, being prone to roots drying out should the roots not be covered well.
Stage Three – Reception
Bare roots require immediate attention once they arrive at the client’s home. At the very least, they’ll need a drink and really should be planted the same day they arrive. Any delay puts the plants at risk. On arrival, move bags of bare root plants to a frost free garage or shed; should you wish to hold them for longer than a few days, dig a trench, break up any sods, backfill and firm with heel around the roots; they may be held until March in this manner.
With these risks it is not surprising that a certain number of bare root plants don’t make it but our real concern, again based on research, is that because bare root plants in particular are especially cheap, few customers let us know about the plants that don’t take – this is not how we like to run our business. A failed plant must be replaced with a larger, more expensive plant!
Not only are container grown plants unaffected by these issues, they offer many additional positive benefits:
They can be planted at any time throughout the year – unless the ground is frozen. Bare root plants can only be planted from November to March, root balls from mid-October to mid-April.
As long as they are kept in an appropriate location and are watered, container grown plants will happily wait to be planted
Because their roots are fully-formed, the plants:
– Are more reliable
– Establish quickly
– Start growing quickly
– Unlike bare roots and root balls, they can be situated, trained and trimmed with precision – vital if you are after a formal hedge.
View Our Video Showing The Benefits Of Container Over Root Ball Plants
Evergreen & Semi-Evergreen
True evergreens, such as Laurel and Box, keep their green leaves throughout the year.
Deciduous plants, of course, drop the lot come autumn – not surprisingly, none of our plants fall into this category.
In between, there are the semi-evergreens, like Beech and Hornbeam, that shed some green leaves depending on the severity of the wind and how far north they have been planted. Obviously this will affect the degree of privacy a particular species can offer during autumn and winter and should be taken into account when making your choice.
Fast or Slow Growing?
Once fully established, a garden hedge should require no more than an annual prune to keep its shape and height. Along the way, though, a growing hedge will need just a little more attention – we’re talking minutes not hours – and the slower growing it is, the less attention it will need. Only you can decide which is more important – maximum growth or minimum maintenance.
Soil And Drainage
First of all, look around at your immediate neighbourhood to see which hedging plants are growing well. Don’t look too far away as soil conditions can change in a matter of metres. Next, if you don’t know your soil type, dig an exploratory hole a metre or so down where you intend to place your hedge. Hedging plants tend to prefer a free draining home so fill your hole with water to assess drainage. If it’s slow (more than twenty minutes to drain completely and definitely if there’s clay), you should dig in plenty of organic matter (compost, soil improver, bark etc.) before planting.
You should also take the pH of your soil into consideration – laurels, for example do not like strongly acid soils. If you don’t know how acid/alkaline your soil is, inexpensive testing kits can be readily bought.
Incidentally, if you have a newly built house, don’t judge the book by its cover – the developer’s brought-in top soil may just be a sprinkling to cover less accommodating hardcore beneath.
Given that many hedges are planted where adjacent buildings, walls or trees can create a shaded environment, it is fortunate that many shade-resistant hedging plants are available. It is essential, therefore, to choose plants that will be happy with the light levels afforded by their new location.
Remember, too, that as a hedge grows it will create a shaded area in its shadow so make sure that any immediate under-planting is shade tolerant
First: Prepare the soil before planting. This is essential. We recommend digging with a garden fork to twice the depth of the fork (double digging) as this will give the roots a free run without restriction.
As you dig, remove all weeds including rhizomes (fleshy roots) and any large stones or other detritus such as discarded bricks and rubble. Keep small stones as these are good for drainage.
Second: If summertimefill the furrow with water and allow it to drain.
Third: Add organic matter, such as garden compost, and, if you are planting in spring or summer, a sprinkling of general-purpose fertilizer.
Fourth: Plunge the hedging plants into a bucket of water for a short while to drive out the air, leave to drain and then remove the plant from its container.
Finally: Place your hedging plants into the furrow with the top of the pot at soil level, back fill and firm with your heel to ensure the roots have a good contact with the soil.
Your hedging plants must be looked after immediately you receive them .
Although container grown plants do not need to planted out immediately, the containers must be moved to a location that offers the right amount of light/shade and any necessary protection from the elements. And they must be kept moist but not soaking at all times. In hot weather this may require daily watering; in winter no additional watering will be needed unless they are left on their side for long.
Root balls need to be kept moist whilst bare roots need moving either into the cool garage (if in bags) or ‘heeling in’ to a trench. At all times, the roots must not dry out.
During the first few years, it is essential to keep the area around your hedging plants weed-free. Use mulch to suppress weeds and retain moisture and top dress annually with a general purpose fertilizer.
In late spring nip out the ‘leader’ and clip the sides to make the hedge fuller. The hedge will put up a new leader within a short time.
Water frequently, especially during dry spells and support plants that are rocked by wind.