1-1.5ft (30-45cm) Transplanted Cotoneaster Simonsii during first summer
By the second summer the plants have formed a solid barrier. Click
here to view a mature Contoneater
2-3ft (60-90cm) transplanted Hornbeam,
first summer after planting.
Second summer after planting. Click
here to view a mature Hornbeam
Rubus Cockburnianus (White-Stemmed
Bramble), 2 years after planting. Click
here to view winter colour.
2-3ft (60-90cm) Hornbeam &
Mixed Native Hedging, 2nd, 3rd
and 5th years after planting.
WHY PLANT SMALL
If you wish to create a hedge which is really
dense and bushy from the ground upwards it is advisable to plant
young, small plants. Many people look at the small bare rooted seedlings
or transplants and imagine it will be years before they will achieve
anything which looks like a 'hedge'. If larger plants are chosen
the result can often be that the hedge is rather gappy at the base.
Also larger plants are more expensive and are more likely to fail
than small ones.
To show how quickly a hedge can be created with
the young plants we have taken a series of pictures of a few species
in their first and second year of growth. Further photographs will
be taken in the future until the hedges are mature. The site this
experiment is taking place on is windy and on the top of a hill
in a nearby village. If it was in a sheltered warm valley faster
results should be obtained, but the site chosen will give a better
idea for average conditions in Great Britain.
GETTING READY FOR
YOUR PLANTS TO ARRIVE
Please ensure you are ready for your plants
as deliveries are made during week days when you may be unable to
plant them, or the ground could be frozen or snow-covered. Plants
deteriorate if left in their packing too long, so have an area of
cultivated soil in a sheltered site prepared in advance. Do this
by digging a trench about 50cm (20 inches) deep and cover the area
with polythene to keep it dry and prevent it freezing. When the
plants arrive, unwrap them and any bare-rooted ones should be soaked
for up to two hours in water. Bed the plants into the prepared trench
and cover the roots with soil, which should be watered if dry. The
plants can remain in this state until you are able to plant into
their final place. Any pot grown plants should be watered if necessary
then kept in a sheltered position until planted.
PREPARING THE GROUND
If possible, get the preparation done before the winter planting
season - while the weather and soil is still warm. Irrigate dry
soils copiously before any cultivation is carried out.
To prepare the soil for hedges, dig a trench at least 45cm (18in)
wide and 30cm (1ft) deep along the length of the proposed hedge
infilling with improved soil as necessary. For individual trees
or shrubs clear a circle approximately 1 metre / 1 yard diameter
of grass and weeds. Dig the area to at least 30cm (1ft) deep and
improve the soil structure as necessary.
To improve the structure of the soil, incorporate generous quantities
of compost, such as well-rotted garden compost, well-rotted farmyard
manure, mushroom compost or composted bark. If the soil has poor
drainage add sharp sand or coarse grit (make sure it is lime-free).
If the soil is heavy clay take care not to create a solid basin
at the base of the trench that will stop the water from draining
If this preparation is done in advance of planting the soil can
then settle and will be workable when you come to put the plants
in during the winter. Even if the soil is cold and frosty on the
surface, it will be relatively easy to turn over if it has been
Plant the new plants and mulch well with at least 5-10cm (2-4in)
bark chips or other mulching material around the plants. You can
put down landscape
fabric first and plant through this, mulching on top.
The mulch is very important as it suppresses weed growth and helps
retain valuable moisture in the surrounding soil.
It is essential that all evergreens are sheltered from drying
winds during their first winter and growing season. If the weather
conditions are particularly severe or the site is subject to strong
prevailing winds a protective windbreak should be erected, for example
This will help to prevent the plants drying out before their roots
For all plants it is essential that they are kept well watered
during their first year even in winter when they are dormant. It
is important to keep them moist in March, April and May just before
they break dormancy. As a guide, in dry weather at least two gallons
(10 litres) of water per square yard/metre should be applied twice
a week. Also, it is advisable to spray over the foliage of evergreens
in the evenings as well as watering. Use a hose-end diluter to make
the task easier.
Ensure that all tree ties are kept secure but not too tight, and
that no grass or weeds are allowed to grow around the plants for
at least a year.
In the first year plants often come into leaf and flower much
later than established plants and it should not be assumed that
the plants have failed should they be late into leaf. Evergreen
shrubs may drop their leaves when transplanted, they should re-grow
new shoots within three months of planting.
PLANTING WITH ROOTGROW AND BROADVIEW P4
Whether planting bare root, ball root or pot grown plants, we would
strongly recommend using Rootgrow. Rootgrow enhances plant’s
root system so a newly planted plant can find more food, nutrients
and water. This means you need less fertilizer, the plants will
establish faster and it reduces failure rates. The product can only
be applied whilst planting as it has to be in contact with the roots,
but as it is so effective it may be advisable to delay planting
until you have purchased enough to treat the roots of your plants.
It is available from the Garden Centre or by mail order. Find out
more about Rootgrow here.
Broadleaf P4 is the ideal product to use with Rootgrow as it is a water retaining gel which the young roots can grow through and will last for up to 5 years by which time the plants will be well established. Rain or irrigated water will be held around the root absorbing nutrients as well and these can be used by the plants when needed. Further details of this product are available here.
PLANTING & PRUNING
When planting and caring for a new hedge it is very important to
follow the pruning and planting instructions which will come with
the plants, or are available from the Garden Centre shop. Some people
do not like to cut their hedging plants back, or forget to do so,
and with many varieties this will result in a hedge which is not
dense at the base. The best hedges develop from a good basal re-growth
– so ensure this prune is carried out at planting time or
in the first spring.