Carpinus Betulus (the European or Common Hornbeam) is a hardy, semi evergreen which makes an extremely versatile hedging plant. It is similar to beech with the advantage of tolerating wet feet and cold and/or exposed situations – modern botanists classify hornbeams in the birch subfamily Coryloideae. It is typically found in lowland situations, growing in the wild at elevations below 600m.
Hornbeam works well in an informal mixed native hedge because, once established, it retains its coppery leaves to provide both interest and some winter wildlife cover. It also makes an excellent single species garden hedge that is easier to establish and faster growing than beech.
If you are undecided whether to go for beech or hornbeam, this may help you decide: while young hornbeams may drop some leaves over winter, its new foliage will appear as early as mid-March while new foliage on beech appears some weeks later in early May. Of the two plants, hornbeam will thrive better in more difficult growing conditions, such as overly wet or dry soil – so if you know growing conditions aren’t perfect then you’d be better off opting for the easier of the two. Hornbeam is also less susceptible to pests and insects, such as woolly beech aphid, which can be a minor issue for beech hedges. Additionally, when compared to beech, hornbeam is the slightly cheaper option – so if you need a lot of hedging on a budget then this may be your best choice.
Need to know how many plants?
Enter the length of your proposed hedge in metres below and the number of plants we recommend will appear.
For this particular species we would recommend a double row of plants for the best hedge.
Hornbeam Hedging at-a-glance
Foliage Type: Semi-Evergreen Hardiness: ✯✯✯✯✯ Ease of maintenance: ✯✯✯✯✯ Drought Resistance: ✯✯✯ Soil type: Acid or Alkaline Wet/Dry: Wet Preferred situation: Sun / Light Shade Height: 4m+ Growth Rate: Medium / Fast