Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Planting a New Hedge

Late autumn and winter is the best time to plant a new hedge. This is also the time to find deals on bare root, and B&B plant materials, not available in summer.

Hedge plants are chosen because they are hardy long-lived and adaptable to trimming. Fast growing trees make a quick hedge, but size and frequent pruning needs can be a problem. . Slower growing plants are better candidates for a small urban lot.

Green hedges make a great background for other plants, colorful hedges can be a focal point, and a mixed hedge has many possibilities, think through your options before investing in the plants. What about the nostalgia of a Lilac hedge or the benefits of a mixed hedgerow to birds?

Another important consideration in planning and choosing a hedge is how much space you have available to accommodate the mature width of the base of your hedge. A good guideline for average space requirements would be as follows:

A small trimmed hedge (less than 30 cm tall) needs a base width of 30-60 cm

A medium one (60-90 cm tall) needs 90 cm-1.2 m

A tall hedge (1.2-2.4 m) needs 1.5-2.7 m

Small-unclipped hedges need 90 cm-1.2 m clearance at the base

Tall-unclipped ones need 1.8-2.4 m

Take time to consider potential problems your hedge could create with things such as drain lines, windows, view corridors, shade, and power lines. Remember that hedge plants will grow outwards so plan an absolute minimum of half the expected mature width away from driveways, walkways, flowerbeds, and property lines.

Do you want a low maintenance hedge, or do you like the highly manicured look that requires frequent pruning.

Lay out and prepare the hedge line well in advance of planting, your hedge will be an important feature so careful preparation and planning is especially significant.

Check that the spacing is right for the type of hedge you have chosen, most plants will be 1’ to 2’apart.

Dig the soil over to two spade depths and to 1.5 times the width of the mature hedge. For a 60cm (2ft) wide hedge a 90cm (3ft) wide bed should be dug.

Dig in plenty of compost and well-rotted organic manure, as this is the time when you can most effectively feed your new hedge.

The addition of bone meal, or rock phosphate, worked into the soil now can ensure phosphorous for years to come. In subsequent years a top dressing of compost, or rotted manure each year will keep your hedge looking great.

If the soil is not well drained try to work grit into the soil but avoid making the new hedge line a 'sump' where water will collect from the surrounding area. If drainage is really bad lay some drainage coil or field drains to carry water away from the hedge.

Use a taut garden line to make sure that your hedge is planted in a straight line, placing the plants carefully to one side of it.

Plant as you would any tree or shrub, take care plant at the same soil level as the container, or the plants previous soil line. Plants placed too deeply or not deeply enough will establish well.

Take care during the planting operation that you do not let the plants (especially bare-root plants) dry out.

Always water newly planted hedges thoroughly, and keeps them well-watered in dry periods for up to a year. Water in well, even if it is about to rain, as this initial moisture is crucial to the plant.

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