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Hedge Planting – Root Balled Plants

If you’ve been following the blog lately, you’ll already be up-to-date on with our series on bare root plants, which are field grown and supplied in bundles over the dormant season, November to March.

This is an economical way to plant deciduous hedging in sizes up to 2m, but this doesn’t carry over to evergreens. As they never go fully dormant, evergreens larger than 45cm are best sold with some soil around the roots. Instead, you’ll be looking at a rootballed plant, which we’ll be discussing a little more today.

What is a rootballed plant?

This just means they’re provided with a ball of soil around the roots, secured by a hessian covering.

Why should I use one?

Unlike bare root plants, the roots will be insulated, moist, and suitable to be stored for longer (up to a week in a cool, sheltered area!) They’re cheaper than container grown plants, and simple to plant in a tree pit.

Typically they’ll be moderately mature, and trimmed down as they’ve grown. This produces a bushy appearance, and makes them quick to resemble an established hedge when planted as a group.

I’m looking for instant hedging, which rootballed plants can I use?

Good question!

Yew - Taxus baccata

yew

The Yew’s vivid, green foliage

This is a classic, evergreen hedge plant. It’s long lived, easily trimmed, shade tolerant, and provides a beautifully sheer backdrop to herbaceous plants. It’s long been used for topiary and formal gardens, thanks to an incredibly dense appearance. If you’ve ever explored a maze garden you’re likely familiar with Yew.

 a line of yew

A line of Yew from around the nursery

Yew is also quite simple to maintain, only requiring annual trimming. If it becomes overgrown it can be renovated by cutting back one side each year, permitting gradual rejuvenation. So long as it’s provided with good drainage, the plant can tolerate most soil types, even chalk.

Western Red Cedar - Thuja plicata

Yew can’t handle excessive moisture, making Western Red Cedar an excellent alternative in heavier, damper soils.

wester red cedars 1


It’s a quick-growing evergreen conifer, naturally able to quickly reach 15m as a tree, but easily trimmed into a smart boundary hedge. With deep green, glossy foliage it compares well to Yew as a backdrop to herbaceous plants, though faster growing and with better tolerance of wetter soils. It also thrives on all normally cultivated soils, and is resistant to wind.

Western Red Cedar has a pleasant identifying characteristic - its fragrance – which resembles pineapple, distinguishing it from other conifers.

western red cedars

A display of Western Red Cedars

What else should I know?

It’s important to remember that the wire wrapping is there for a reason! Even after planting, the hessian keeps the root system secure and safe. It’ll rot away naturally in three to six months, so there’s absolutely no need to remove it yourself.

How many will I need?

We often receive questions about spacing, and are more than happy to oblige. Both of these plants would function fine around a metre apart, though you may wish to adjust this for plants under 1m tall, in which case they may initially appear a little spacious. Spacing of 60-75cm will allow them to grow and bush out comfortably, without taking too long to meet up.

Rootballed plants are an excellent way to get your hedges off to an immediate and effective start, while the species above are perfect options for a satisfying, formal hedge.

If you have any questions we haven’t covered above, don’t hesitate to get in touch, as we’re more than happy to lend a hand with any queries you might have.

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