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What to Consider when Choosing a Hedge

We’re already half way through November and temperatures are dropping rapidly. If you’ve been eagerly awaiting the planting season then you’ll no doubt already be busying yourself with ground and site preparation, and picking out some choice specimens to grow into next year.

At the nursery we’re receiving many enquiries about hedging. Bareroot and rootballed hedging is now available and we’re setting a little space aside here to discuss what you need to bear in mind when picking out a hedge.

Evergreen or Deciduous

Evergreen hedging is often required for screening and for structure in the garden throughout the year. Evergreen hedge plants include conifers as well as many evergreen shrubs that can be used for hedging. Leyland has received bad press because it can grow fast and ultimately very large in the wrong place, but when well maintained it can create a dense screen quickly. Other conifers such as Western Red Cedar – Thuja plicata –  have the same advantages and are slightly slower growing.

Non conifer hedges include laurels, and evergreen shrubs such as Viburnum tinus which has the added interest of flower buds throughout the winter and flowers in spring.

Deciduous hedges have many advantages - they act as a wind break; often offer a change of foliage colour (such as beech which turns rusty brown in the winter after a glorious summer green); mixed hedges are wildlife friendly, offering a variety of berries and seeds, shelter and insect habitat.

Bear in mind that while we offer Containerized Hedging in both deciduous and evergreen varieties, we also have a selection of Rootballed Evergreen Hedging, and a wide range of bareroot hedging (read about storing and planting it here).

Function

An important point to consider. Perhaps you wish to screen out external eyesores, or just set up divisions and ornament within the garden. If you’re hoping to create a shelter belt for wildlife on either a small garden or larger property, certain species will offer more protection and provide food at different times of year, or you may even be looking for a wind-break.

Different specimens are suitable for every imaginable function you have in mind. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for but know what you want to achieve, call us straight away (01435 862992) and we’d love to help you out.

Soil Type & Aspect

Now there are a few more slightly technical issues to consider. Is your soil more acidic or alkaline? Are you working with a heavy clay or sand soil, or a moist, loamy site? Certain hedge plants are more likely to thrive in certain sites, and steps can always be taken to improve your soil quality. Again, this is something we can help you with.

Aspect is also important. South facing gardens tend to get the most light, and eastern/western gardens will get morning and afternoon light, respectively. If you’re setting up a screen it’s important to bear in mind how it will affect your garden’s light levels as a whole. And if the hedge line will be near mature trees remember the plants should be shade tolerant.

Speed of Growth & Maintenance

This naturally depends on how fast you want to see the hedge develop, and how much time you want to spend hedge cutting! Some evergreen such as leylands are fast growing and do require regular maintenance to keep them neat, some hedges only require one trim a year, and others can be left to grow to maturity with little attention.

Sizing

Some of our customers like to see plants grow – starting with small specimens, but many people want instant screening or fairly established plants to start with, we can supply both. Bare root hedge plants start from 40-60cm for typical native hedge plants such as hawthorn, and we can also supply mature container grown hedge plants such as laurels and Photinia Red Robin at 2m high – already a substantial hedge plant for evergreen screening.

Call Us

If you’re new to plant selection, particularly planning for a hedge, all this can possibly seem a bit daunting. As ever, we’re always happy to help, and we know what we’re talking about. Never hesitate to pick up the phone or send us an e-mail, and we can help you with any questions you have about planting selection and technique. You can contact English Woodlands here, and there’s always a team member on hand to help out.

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