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Ground & Site Preparation

Next month is going to be exciting. While we will continue to enjoy magnificent autumn colour and ideal planting conditions, bare-root and rootballed plants become available, being an ideal way to buy hedge plants. Soon it’ll be time to discuss all about hedge planting, from plant choice and planting technique to thoughts on garden structure.

But if you want your hedges to enjoy the best start in life, there are a few important tasks to bear in mind before we can get around to all that fun material. As October comes to a close it’s time to start turning our eyes toward ground preparation. So pick your site, grab your tools, and bear these tips in mind.

First things first, check if your proposed site has grass on it. All turf will need removing, and you’ll want to ensure you’ve cleared a large enough width to allow for soil preparation, so don’t be shy with the shovel. Remember to check up regularly, as you’ll need to keep the area weed and grass free while the hedge establishes.

While you’re doing this, make extra-sure perennial weeds are removed. Weeds such as bindweed and nettles will come back again and again unless they’ve been dug out or weed killed initially. Removing these right from the start can significantly affect the establishment of the hedge.

Now the soil’s clear, it’s time to prepare it for planting. If it hasn’t been previously cultivated it’ll likely be quite compacted, so you’ll need to dig over, or rotavate tougher soils, incorporating air back into the earth.

It’s also best to add some organic matter, for instance well-rotted manure / leaf mould / garden compost, which will improve the structure of most soils, whether they’re sandy, clay, or a good loam. Just be sure not to add too much, particularly to heavy clay soils. This can encourage too much water to collect around the plants roots.

Before you plant, you may wish to add a slow-release fertiliser, such as one based on blood meal, soybean meal, or fish emulsion. This will release nutrients into the soil over a longer period. Bonemeal is an excellent choice to add just prior to planting, ensuring the nutrients are available for healthy root development.

 bonemeal

Bonemeal is one of the most popular fertilizers for slow nutrient release, particularly phosphorous

Get all this done and your garden will be in excellent shape for planting next month. Check back then, and we’ll have more to discuss concerning planting choice and technique.

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