Hedges are very valuable trees. In fact, they reduce surrounding noise, defend the garden against intrusions, shelter from the wind, highlight flower beds, decorate the yard and create intimacy by marking the garden’s boundaries. In addition, you can let them grow freely or trim them according to the desired shape. However, it is very important to choose the right type of hedges. 

The most difficult part of growing hedges is selecting the type of trees to plant. There are actually several types of hedges, but planting and maintenance techniques hardly differ at all.

The different varieties of hedges 

Nowadays, there are 6 varieties of hedges, including classics such as the European yew, boxwood, hornbeam, holly, beech, laurel, photinia, or privet. Then there are hedges made up of coniferous trees, such as thuja, Leyland cypress and Lawson’s cypress. Additionally, there are flowering hedges like abelia, flowering currant, Escallonia, Kerria japonica, rhododendron and myrtle. Some types of hedges can act as windbreaks. These include poplar, white willow, Russian-olive, tamarix, or the beech. You can also grow defensive hedges with barberry, Poncirus, firethorn, the sea-buckthorn or bramblebush. And finally there are low-trimmed hedges such as lavender, dwarf bamboo, or Wilson’s honeysuckle. Techniques for growing hedges vary depending on the plant. Among them is the trimmed hedge, also known as the formal hedge, which measures up to 5 feet tall. It is not very thick and forms a sort of plant wall that requires regular pruning. Then there is the semi-free hedge, of which only the width must be trimmed, and that can function as a windbreak. Finally, there is the informal hedge that must be left in its natural form, primarily occupying the ground surface.

Planting hedges

Deciduous hedgerows are planted between mid-October and late March, and all others can be planted any time, although it is better to proceed before the arrival of frost. To plant hedges, simply dig a 20-inch deep trench, air it out, and add an organic amendment and PK fertilizer. Then tamp the soil at the base of the shrubs and water abundantly, remembering to create irrigation ditches along the planting line.

Be aware that planting distance varies according to hedge variety. For formal and flowering hedges, plant every 2 to 2.5 feet, for coniferous hedges, every 2.5 feet, for windbreaks, every 8 feet for large trees and every 2.5 feet for shrubs, as is also the case for defensive hedges. For low-trimmed hedges, that distance is 1.5 to 2.5 feet, for boxwood it is every 6 inches and for other shrubs every foot. If your hedge is less than 6.5 feet high, leave a 1.5 foot space between the neighbour’s fence and the shrubs. If the hedge is taller than 6.5 feet, that space should be 6.5 feet as well.

Maintaining hedges

The first year of growth, hedges should be watered 2-3 times a week. If they are over 3 feet tall, attach a wire to both ends to prevent it from swinging in the wind. The first year, the weeds must be removed and a black plastic tarpaulin can be set up for mulching. As for pruning, it must be undertaken as soon as planting takes place in order to strengthen the hedge and make it denser. The pruning period varies depending on the variety of the hedge. Thus, trim formal and defensive hedges between April and May or between September and October; coniferous hedges between March and late August or early September, flowering and windbreak hedges in September and October, low-trimmed hedges in May and September, and countryside hedges between September and October. Also note that hedges need to be treated against possible enemies. Treatment may be preventive or curative.

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Published in Trees and shrubs by Alexander on 04 Jul 2011