Reasons for Choosing and Preparation for Planting Hedges
Reasons for Choosing Hedging Plants
Formal hedges are grown to provide a physical barrier against noise and wind, or simply to give a degree of privacy. Provided the growth is dense enough, there is no need for any hedge to exceed 60cm (2ft) in width. All hedges should taper towards their top —that is, be slightly wider at their base — to be most stable and resistant to wind and snow damage.
Informal hedges are used more for screens and divisions between two separate parts of the garden and for concealing unwanted views from the garden. They do not need to be so dense or regular in outline, and require no moreor maintenance than free-standing shrubs. They can also be of a spikey variety, such as Pyracantha, for security purposes.
Thorough preparation of the site and regular aftercare are essential if a new hedge is to remain healthy and attractive for many years to come.
Apart from being attractive features in themselves, hedges are used to mark out boundaries, provide privacy and conceal unattractive views. They can also form windbreaks and screens against damaging prevailing winds. In exposed regions, hedges are preferable to solid walls which are less effective in deflecting and filtering potentially destructive gales.
All hedges, whether formal or informal, should be even and compact in growth so that they retain their shape over a long period. For a formal effect, they must be able to withstand regular trimming. In particular, hedges should not die out at the bottom or develop patches with age.
To be really successful, you must pay great attention to site preparation and planning, since a hedge is a permanent feature and it will be difficult to attend toconditions in later years.
A hedge must be tended regularly and so access to both sides is essential. If it is to form a boundary between neighbours, you may leave half the job to them. Elsewhere, you should be able to walk freely around both sides. A tall hedge may need trimming from a stepladder, so firm, level ground to a width of at least 1m (3ft) on either side is required. For safety, electric trimming tools should not be used in confined spaces — never get involved in a balancing act.
Ideally, the site should be consistent from end to end in terms of sun/shade, soil, soil type and wind exposure — uneven conditions invariably produce an uneven hedge.
Preparing the Site
For best results, the planting strip should be about 1m (3ft) wide. Narrow sites encourage competition from weeds, neighbouring plants or grass during the hedge’s early years which results in poor or erratic establishment.
For spring planting, which is best for most evergreens, prepare the ground in autumn and winter. Sites for deciduous hedges to be planted in autumn are best prepared in spring and kept weed-free during the summer
Soil condition along an old boundary is often poor, especially where a wall or fence has been removed. If there is a lot of rubble, poor soil or drainage problems, dig out the site to at least one spade’s depth and replace with new topsoil — bought or transferred from elsewhere in the garden.
Read more on general care for hedges