Hedging

Hedging-420_420You can view all our trees suitable for hedging in our tree finder or by filtering our availability page.  Native hedges are also popular and these filters can be applied too, but they are normally based upon 70% hawthorn for a rustic look.  The three biggest concerns of anyone planting a hedge are; protection, how many plants to use and how to trim their hedge.

Protection Products

As detailed in our tree shelters guide, spirals are the cheapest option, but easywraps are more sturdy.  You will want to use 60cm shelters to protect against rabbits and 75cm for hares; if there is heavy deer pressure then you are unlikely to effectively prevent browsing whilst still allowing bushy growth at the base of the hedge.

How Many Trees to Plant

Deciding how many trees you need to order is quite simple:

1. Decide if you want a slim-line, single-row hedge or a thick, double-row. If you have space, we would definitely recommend going for a double row so you get a really luscious, dense look. Only a box hedge, and to a lesser extent hornbeam, are dense enough to be grown as a single row without little holes appearing between branches.
2. Measure the area you want your hedge to cover. Pace the distance out in metres and remember with our multi-packs, it pays to be a bit generous.
3. Do some simple maths! Look at the species below and do:

(Number of Plants/Metre) x (Number of Metres) = Number of Plants you need!
If you prefer feet, then 1 metre = 3.3 feet (very roughly!)

When thinking about planting densities, hedge species can be split into 3 Categories:

Naturally Dense Hedge Trees

Use 3 plants per metre (1 per foot) in a single row, or 5 (1.5 per foot) in a double row.

Hedge Trees include: Field Maple, Berberis, Hornbeam, Hazel, Cotoneaster, Hawthorn, Holly, Laurels, Privets, Blackthorn, Fruit trees. Roses can also be planted at this spacing, but it often looks better to plant Dog Roses in addition to your other trees and let them ramble through the hedge, allowing pink flowers to pop up randomly along the length of the hedge.

Medium Density Hedge Trees

These trees can create a wonderful hedge, but need to be planted a little closer together and should be pruned in a slightly different way.

Use 4 plants per metre (1.2 per foot) in a single row, or 7 per metre (2 per foot) in a double row.

Hedge Trees include: Green Beech, Copper Beech and Honeysuckle.

You can grow a hedge from almost any type of tree, so if you are using a non-traditional species as a hedge, then plant slightly denser than this.

Conifer Hedging

Conifers can really vigorous and have thick trunks, so they can be planted at wider spacing.

Use 2 plants per metre (1 plant every 2 feet) in a single row, or 3 (one per foot) in a double row.

How Do I Trim My Hedge?

The short answer is: prune back 1/3 of height growth every spring until the hedge gets to your desired size and then as often as it needs it during the summer. This will work well enough for all hedges and you will get a height gain of upto 1ft per year (after pruning) for most types of hedge. Just prune the sides of the hedge once it gets to your desired thickness making sure it is narrower at the top than bottom.

Hedging species can be split into groups for the very best care:

Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Fruit Trees, Dogwood and Privet

These trees make great hedges, but need care in the first years to promote bushiness at the bottom. Start by pruning the plants back to 30cm when planting then during the first summer, trim off a couple of centimetres from the sides to promote side-growth: you are really just trying to nip off the buds. Make sure the hedge is thinner at the top than the bottom so that light gets to the bottom of the hedge as side branches will die if they get no light.
In the second year in February/March, give it a really good prune, down to half its height. This will really get the bottom nice and bushy and once those side shoots have grown in then you have achieved your aim of avoiding gaps. Keep lightly pruning the sides to a taper so that lights gets to the bottom, but you can let the hedge grow in height throughout the second summer and then prune the tops in the Autumn. From then on, you need only to prune the hedge to your desired shape and it will gradually fill in and become bushier.

Beech, Hornbeam, Hazel, Field Maple

These trees are naturally far bushier at the base than the hawthorn group so there is less chance of getting it wrong. Cut them back to about 20cm when planting (or just nip the top bud out if they are already small) to get a bit more bushiness at the base and then again during the following winter. After that, just let it grow and trim the hedge to your desired shape in July, keeping that taper shape so light gets to the bottom branches.

Box and Honeysuckle

This one is easy to remember. Cut back by 1/3 for the first two springs and then prune the hedge to your desired size every summer thereafter.

All other Conifers and Evergreens, including Cotoneasters

These hedges can easily get out of control and will not re-grow from old wood (the brown ‘dead’ bit on the inside of the hedge) so never prune beyond the green. When you plant evergreen hedging, just prune the sides very lightly to a neat taper and let light get to the bottom of the hedge. Don’t prune the tops until they have reached your desired height and then trim as often as you need throughout the summer, perhaps 2-3 times. Avoid pruning from August onwards, because then you will get permanent brown patches. The really important thing to remember about evergreen hedging is that you really must know how big you want it to be before you plant. You can reduce evergreen hedges in height easily enough, but you cannot reduce them in width very much because then you will be cutting into old wood which will never re-grow.

Flowers and Berries

If you want flowers and berries on your hedge, then still follow the guidelines above but just prune after the blossom or berries have finished. Lots of people like to put native roses through their hedge (Rosa canina), which can looks great but they flower on last year’s growth, so only prune once a year after flowering. A better alternative is Rose rugosa which flowers in the current year’s growth and can be pruned as per the rest of the hedge.