Planting Hedge Plants
Preparing the Site Before Planting Your Hedge Plants
Areas for planting your hedge plants may already be grassed or occupied by weeds or ornamental plants, which must be cleared. A rotary cultivator provides a quick means of turning over the soil, but the roots of perennials will be sliced up and turned in, creating a persistent weed problem. Manual cultivation, using a hand fork or spade, gives better results. Alternatively, apply a total, but non-persistent weedkiller, allowing plenty of time for the chemical to disintegrate in the soil before planting the hedge.
If no perennial weeds are present in the site, turf can be turned upside-down and buried one spade's depth in the bottom of the planting trench. This preserves the valuable top-soil and improves the organic content of the soil.
Begin by marking out the site with pegs and string lines for the place you want your hedging plants to be. Regular arcs and semi-circles can be plotted using string pulled taut from a peg inserted at the centre of the curve. Gauge the desired radius by knotting the string, slicing the curve with a knife held against the knot.
Turn over the soil throughout the site to one spade's depth and fork in a layer of well-rotted manure at the rate of a barrowful for every 2 m/yd run. Shortly before planting your hedge plants, fork a complete fertilizer, such as Growmore, at one handful per m/yd run, into the soil over a 30cm (lft) wide area along the hedge line.
Planting Your Hedge Plants
Deciduous hedges can be planted when weather and soil conditions permit, between mid autumn and early spring, but preferably in autumn. Evergreen hedges are best planted in spring when transpiration loss will be smallest. Set the plants 45-60cm (11/2-2ft) apart, depending on vigour, with only 25-30cm (10-12in) between dwarf types.
The ideal age of hedge plants as specimens for planting varies, but as a general rule they should be small enough to make handling easy and staking unnecessary. Plant in a single row against a garden line to ensure a straight hedge. When planting around a curve, use a length of wood marked or notched as a gauge to determine the exact centre of the planting area.
Set the hedge plants to the same depth as in the nursery, indicated by a dark soil mark at the base of the stem. Ease soil around the roots, and firm in well — more hedging plants die from loose planting than any other cause.
Trim all hedge plants to a standard height using a string stretched between two canes as a guide. This ensures that they all have the same start. If plants aren't very bushy, cut back all growths by half or two-thirds, either at planting time or in spring.
Water young hedge plants during dry spells in spring and early summer. Allow at least 10 litres (2 gallons) to soak in around each plant daily until established. Sprinkling, preferably with rainwater in a fine-rose watering can, is also beneficial.
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