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Monthly Archives: November 2013

  • Hedge Planting – Bare Root Plants

    We’ve already discussed some of the essentials for planning a new hedge, such as deciding on function, preparing your site and soil, and digging a trench.

    Of course, correct planting technique is just as important as informed preparation, so read on for some quick advice on finishing off your hedge. Today we’ll be looking specifically at bare root hedging.

    Where should I store them?

    Without a rootball to cover them it’s important to keep your bare root plants protected until you’re ready to plant. They can be stored in a cool, sheltered area for up to week with the roots in the bag they were supplied in. Alternatively, dig a trench and heel them into the ground in bundles for considerably longer. Find out more on our Cold Weather Planting & Storage Guide. Remember that roots should be damp, but not sitting in water.

    How should I plant them?

    Once your roots are un-bagged and ready to plant, remember that they’re still being exposed to the elements, the wind and sun can dry them out. Cover them with damp hessian or sacking right up until they’re in the ground to protect and moisten the roots.

    We often advise customers to submerge bare root plants in water for up to five minutes right before planting, to ensure they’re moist. This is an excellent time to use Myccorhizal fungi, which is particularly good or planting bare root plants. The granules can be mixed with water to create a dip. You can download our Rootgrow guide for detailed information on doing so. Simply select the download marked ‘How to Use Rootgrow’ for more information.

    For physical planting, please refer to our Successful Tree Planting download, which covers all elements of planting, staking, and supporting your new plant.

    How many will I need?

    We’re often asked how many plants you’ll actually need to purchase for an effective hedge. This naturally depends on the space you hope to screen, but we do have some guidelines for you to work from.

    A new, mixed hedge will typically be spaced at about 5 plants per metre (or 4 plants per yard!). This allows you to plant two, staggered rows for maximum coverage and access to nutrients.


    The diagram seen above represents recommend spacing. Each plant is spaced 40cm along from the next on the row, requiring five plants per metre, spread between 2 rows. The rows themselves are around 30cm apart.

    Will they need protection?

    Bare root native hedge plants are vulnerable to rabbit and deer damage, particularly in rural areas. Spiral rabbit guards can be used with canes to support them, or the entire hedge could be fenced off with chicken wire, with the base of the wire firmly buried in the soil.

    What about weeds?

    As with any new planting, weeds compete for water and nutrients and can be difficult to remove, so make sure you never let them establish at all. One way to reduce weed growth in new hedges is to plant through slits in a mulch mat, such as woven polypropylene.

    More information?

    We’ve also written a number of blogs on Successful Tree Planting, Rootgrow Application, and keeping your trees alive. If you’d like to see the entire collection, please visit our Tree Planting Methods category page, which has more than enough advice to get started.

  • Digging Trenches – Hedge Planting & Preparation

    “Do I need to dig a trench?”

    This is one question that keeps popping up each year, when hedge planting season rolls around. And the answer is – sometimes ! It depends on the soil, the site and the plant – and your time and resources.  We’re happy to help out with a little extra advice as hedge planting season is here.

    If you are hedge planting long lengths of native hedging, digging a trench probably isn’t realistic, but for shorter lengths of hedge you may wish to cultivate the soil to prepare it for planting, and a trench may be your preferred way of doing this – either with a rotovator or by digging. If so – a few words of advice -

    Digging & Compact Soils

    Be wary about doing this in heavy clay soils, however. Using any machinery in this manner carries a risk of ‘smearing’ the sides of the trench which destroys the soil structure so it becomes almost watertight and also makes it difficult for roots to penetrate. It could also create a ‘sump’, where water can collect around plant roots. One way of avoiding this is to fork the sides and base of a trench to loosen the soil further.

    Composts and fertilizers

    Preparing the Trench

    By this point you should have loosened the soil, and dug out a trench of appropriate depth, which depends on what you’ll be planting (the trench should leave the top of the rootball exactly level with the surrounding soil). If you’re fortunate enough to have a well-drained, loamy soil (this includes some clay), well-rotted manure, leaf mould, and organic compost can be added in small quantities to the soil. This isn’t the case for heavy soils, however, in which case you want to avoid adding too much organic matter to the mix, it is better to use this as a mulch on top of the soil. Instead use John Innes No. 3, or a gritty compost to plant with.

    If you are planting yew (Taxus baccata), don’t add organic matter, yew is susceptible to phytophthora – a fungus which can be found in organic matter.

    Keep checking back, and we’ll be following up with more advice on planting rootballed hedging and bareroot hedging, along with some tips on technique and specific species.

  • 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).


    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.


    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.

  • Mulch Rolls & Mats – November Promotion

    We’re going all out with planting advice this month. Bareroot plants are coming into season, and the blog is already filling up with tips on soil preparation, trenches, plant choice and planting technique and ensuring your hedges get established.

    When hedge planting many of our customers find using a mulch material significantly reduces competition from weeds, so we are currently offering a special price for our Woven Polypropylene Mulch Rolls and Mulch Mats. Throughout November you’ll be able to claim 20% off these materials, just enter the code MULCH13 at checkout any time before November 30th.

    Woven Polypropylene Mulch Mats

    Woven polypropylene is particularly useful for getting plants established. Laid across the soil they suppress weed growth, while still allowing water, air, and other nutrients to pass into the soil itself. Mulch mats are effective when placed around trees and shrubs, allowing them to grow freely while ensuring they won’t have to compete perennial and annual weeds in the spring.

    Mulch rolls are often used for planting hedges, new borders, and placement under bark paths and gravel, suppressing weeds over a larger surface area.

    So that’s 20% until the end of November, which is plenty of time to read our blog on ground and site preparation and get ready to plant. If you have any questions or queries don’t hesitate to contact us, though. We’re always happy to lend a hand, whether it’s setting up an order or simply preparing to plant.

  • Parrotia persica

    Take a look at the picture below. You’re seeing Parrotia persica, or the ‘Persian Ironwood’, and it’s easy to understand why we’re taking a moment to explore it in more detail this month. We’re now well into autumn, and picking out plants with stunning autumn colour is a major priority, and we’re happy to say that the Persian Ironwood is truly something special in this regard.


    With spectacular autumn colour, Parrotia Persica can be relied upon to stand out

    The tree produces a rainbow-like effect each autumn, of rich yellow, orange, and purple red foliage. It’s even winter flowering, so manages to extend interest through small, vividly red flowers in February and March. Spring and summer are more pleasantly restrained, with light grey bark on mature trees peeling to multiple tones, and dark green leaves with undulated edges.

    In terms of planting the Persian Ironwood is fortunately easy to accommodate. It’s fully hardy and not prone to diseases, suiting most sites (except coastal ones). Preference is given to deep, moist, loamy soils with a neutral to acid pH, and the tree thrives on soils with good drainage.

    It’s native to the near east, specifically the low-lying woodlands in northern Iran. While Parrotia persica is tolerant of urban sites and light shade, you’ll find it colours best when treated to full sun.

    The tree has an ultimate height of 7-10 metres, with a flat top and spreading habit. If you check our site you’ll be able to buy a 200-250cm tree for £114, including VAT. If you’re interested in a smaller, less mature specimen then don’t hesitate to call, as we’ll have more sizes and prices available than shown on-site.

    It's a brilliant specimen, but there's always more to explore on the main site. We have a full range of multi-stem and feathered trees online, if you're looking to shop around a little more.

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