Hedges consist of shrubs and trees that are planted closely together in a row. They're then pruned annually to create a tight shape and dense branching. The height of hedges can vary from just 20-30 cm to as high as 6 metres.
Not every shrub or tree is suitable to be grown as a hedge. The most important features of a hedge are; the colour of the foliage; the growth rate, and whether the shrub or tree is deciduous, evergreen or flowering. Hedge plants such as the beech, Thuja (a conifer), hibiscus and certain shrub rose varieties lend themselves to making very good hedges.
For a striking effect, choose hedging plants with a special leaf colour or striking flowers. For example, the Thuja conifer with its blue-green needles – or the beech in red and green. A holly hedge and a privet hedge are both evergreen. With roses, hydrangeas or hibiscus you can have a wonderful hedge full of flowers.
How do you plant a hedge?
To get the best hedge, it begins with the correct planting of your shrubs. The best planting time is when the branches are bare and/or when the plant is dormant. We supply all our hedging shrubs between September and May when they are dormant and they can be planted immediately. If you want to be sure hedging shrubs branch out from the ground up, you are best to start with small hedging plants. We advise checking your soil first to see if you have dry or wet soil and just how much light and space is actually available for your hedging. Hedges that get too little light will not grow tightly enough and are not really suitable for a dense growth.
Follow these steps to plant a hedge:
- Dig a ditch 60-80 cm deep.
- Improve the excavated soil with compost and fertiliser pellets.
- Give your bare-rooted hedging plants a thorough drenching for an hour prior to planting.
- Only remove any jute sacking covering hedging plants with tied root balls, just before you plant them.
- The labels should tell you how many plants you need per metre length of hedge. Divide your plants over your ditch. Root balls should come level to the soil (don’t forget about the ground sinking and settling).
- Fill with the improved soil and heel well in.
- Water generously right away – make it really marshy.
- Bakker hedge bushes will not require pruning after planting. We supply them at the exact height they need to be.
- Cover the soil under your new hedge with a mulch layer of compost, bark or pruned foliage from your compost heap. This helps keep moisture in.
Water your hedge regularly in the first year after planting. After that, it should only be necessary to give it a little extra water in periods of drought. Feed your hedge in early spring with a mix of organic fertilisers. This will help keep the hedge roots under the actual hedge and they won’t need to spread too far into any neighbouring border to get sufficient nutrients.
Hedges generally need to be pruned twice a year. This keeps your hedge nice and tight and keeps it in the required shape. A good time to trim a hedge is mid-May up to mid-June at the latest. After 21st June (the longest day), shrubs still make new shoots, which can grow beautifully in the bare spots after pruning. After that, you can just allow it to grow, and then cut it to shape again in September. Don't do this on a too sunny day, choose a day when the sun isn’t shinning too much, thereby preventing burning of the pruning wounds. Do the sides first, then the top. Always use the correct tools and snip the ends of your hedge’s branches back (both sides), 10 cm more than you want the actual breadth to be. Allow the top to grow until your hedge is at the required height. A well sheared hedge is broader at the base than at the top (trapeze shaped). This also allows sufficient light to reach the lower branches and prevent them from withering.
Tips for growing hedges:
- Use string stretched between two bamboo canes at either end, to help plant a nice straight hedge.
- If you want more information and more tips on caring for hedges, check our gardening advice pages online.
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