Routine Hedge Care Tips
Watering is necessary during dry spells in the growing season —plants are generally spaced much closer than other garden plants and so their roots compete heavily for water. You can use a garden hose or sprinkler, but the most effective method is to lay a seep hose along the base of the hedge. Apply enough water to saturate the top 15cm (6in) of — equivalent to 2.5cm (1in) of rainfall — at each application and repeat whenever the top 2.5cm (1in) of soil is dry.
Mulching annually with forest bark around the roots of a hedge will help to prevent undue water loss from the soil.
Feeding should be carried out regularly. Apply a general-purpose fertilizer, such as bonemeal, at the rate of a generous handful per sq m/yd in spring as a soil dressing. Treat a strip up to 90cm (3ft) wide from the base of the hedge and hoe the fertilizer into the surface 2.5cm (1in). Water it in if the soil is dry.
If the root run of the hedge is under turf or, then apply nutrients as a foliar feed from a pressure sprayer. Use a liquid fertilizer which is rich in nitrogen for leaf growth. Repeat whenever the foliage appears dull and lacking vigour. Foliar sprays can also be applied as a mid to late season back-up to the main spring soil dressing.
Weeding Around the Bottom of Hedging Plants
Eliminate weeds from the base of a hedge using a draw hoe, by hand or with chemical sprays. Weeds compete with the hedge for nutrients, water and light so remove them before they begin to accumulate.
Water-soluble diquat and paraquat weedkillers are effective against most weeds under a hedge, but avoid wetting the leaves of the hedge. Glyphosate in liquid or gel form is ideal for killing persistent perennial and annual weeds.
Cutting out dead wood is another vital task. Branches often die out in the centre of an established hedge. These should be pruned away since they can harbour diseases such as coral spot which soon spread through the entire hedge. Make clean cuts with secateurs back to healthy wood. This is best done during the growing season when live wood is clearly visible.
If a whole plant dies out within a hedge, grub it out and replace with a young specimen after first preparing and conditioning the soil as for planting a new hedge.
Pests and diseases should be treated as for other garden shrubs and trees. Healthy plants are resistant; use chemicals with care and discretion.