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How to Grow and Maintain a Hedgerow

Updated on May 3, 2017
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Januaris is a miniature garden designer and author of landscaping guides. He loves to write about garden flowers, ponds, lawn and hedges.

In case you didn't know, a hedgerow is a line of trees, bushes or shrubs that border a field. Many people have defined it as a living fence or green fence.

Now, this type of a fence has more benefits than the other types, i.e., chain-link, electric, concrete, dried wood, vinyl, aluminum and wrought iron. In addition to providing security and privacy, it supports ecological diversity. It is also permanent- it can last for hundreds of years if it's well maintained. Moreover, it improves the beauty of a landscape.

line of shrubs
line of shrubs | Source

Planning to establish a privacy fence with shrubs or trees at your home or any other place? Well, read on to find out how to grow and maintain your hedgerow.

In brief, how to grow a hedgerow

1. Decide where to establish it.

2. Choose the right shrubs/trees.

3. Determine its height.

4. Determine its width.

5. Determine spacing and rows.

6. Survey planting area ready to create it.

7. Plant shrubs/trees

Decide Where to Make the Hedgerow- Great Starting Point

Do you want to grow it at the edges of your home? Or do you want it on the boundaries of the different sections of your home? Well, a hedgerow can be planted at any place where a barrier is needed. You can even make it at one side of your home to act as a windbreaker.

Deciding on where to create it will make it easy for you to grow and maintain your trees or shrubs. For example, you will be able to choose the best plants and determine the appropriate height and width.

Living Fences: A Gardener's Guide to Hedges, Vines & Espaliers
Living Fences: A Gardener's Guide to Hedges, Vines & Espaliers

Want to grow and maintain your hedgerow like a pro? Well, just make use of this book! This is the guide that helped me establish hedges, vines, shrubs and trees for my living fence. It basically contains all the information that you need to establish and maintain your garden, yard and fencing plants. I have never been disappointed by its useful information.

If you are looking for more specific or finer hedgerow maintenance ideas, look no further than this book. When you read it through, you will definitely acquire some newer ideas to manage your hedgerow. It is a guide that you should have if you are serious with establishing a living fence that is protective and appealing at the same time.


Choose the Right Plants to Grow the Best Hedgerow

Consider the climate of your area, soil type, fence purpose and your preferences to choose the right plants for your green barrier.

You can choose between shrubs, vines, bushes and trees. If you decide to go with trees, select the ones with pliable branches.

For an impenetrable barrier, you can choose the thorny species of plants. The most commonly used thorny species are Hawthorns and Blackthorn. Other thorny species that you can select include: hollies, pyracanthas, Jujube, black & honey locust, rugosa rose and prickly ash.

If you want a multifunctional fence, you must choose a number of plants. A multipurpose green fence is made of both high and low growing plants. It includes shrubs/trees that can provide food, medicine and wildlife habitat.

While considering the above points, it is highly recommended to choose the most convenient plants.

Plants are considered convenient if they are easy to propagate and are resistant to drought, pests & diseases. Some good examples include: beech, privet, leylandii, hawthorn and osage orange.

Another great way to choose fencing plants is to select between evergreens and deciduous. Evergreens reduce noise & snow and add aesthetic beauty to home or business premises. On the other hand, deciduous trees add some landscaping properties to premises.

Determine the Height of the Green Fence- Important Undertaking

If you are establishing it for security or privacy purposes, you should plan for a higher height- at least 6 feet.

Some things like power lines affect the height, so see if there is anything that can limit you from settling on your desired height. Also, some authorities prohibit taller enclosures, so consult your city or municipal council to see if they have any height rules.

Taller fences are not easy to maintain. For example, they are difficult to prune, trim or spray. So you can settle for a lower one to make sure some of these tasks are not a hassle. Shorter fences have another benefit of being more effective in adding attractiveness to home and business premises.

Determine Its Width- Great Task for People with Limited Space

Consider factors such as the amount of space in your premise and your chosen plant species to determine the right width. A fence made of pure trees usually has a smaller width compared to the one made of shrubs.

You can allocate a width that can fit a double or triple row if you have a large backyard space. But if you have a limited space, you will have to settle for a single row width.

Determine Spacing and Rows

The amount of space between plants in a row is determined while considering the plant species and personal preference. If you expect the plants to grow wide at maturity, you should provide a wider spacing. If you want a thick and tight fence, you will have to settle for a closely spaced growing.

The number of rows depends on the amount of space on a piece of land and the crown width of plants. It is recommended to have a row spacing of at least 12-24 inches, depending on these two factors.

Survey Your Planting Area Ready to Create the Hedgerow

The purpose of surveying is to ensure you have a correct spacing. The process will also help you stick to your planting area. You should be able to come up with uniformly located rows and holes if you get the surveying right.

Get a string, a marker and wooden stakes in order to survey the area. Fix the stakes on the ground at the two ends of the planting strip and tie the string between them and then make appropriate marks. Guided by the marks, you should be able to dig holes or trenches.

Plant the Hedgerow- One of the Most Important Tasks in Growing Living Fences

Planting should not be complicated, whether you are using seeds, seedlings, cuttings or root sprouts. You should have enough planting materials to ensure you plant the whole area within 2 days.

You can plant seeds in straight trenches, but ensure they are well spaced. If you are growing seedling, ensure you place them in holes. Cuttings and root sprouts are easy to establish. If you are using these materials, you need to partially bury them in a loose soil.

In brief, how to maintain/manage a hedgerow

1. Stake young/weak plants to provide support.

2. Prune the plants.

3. Protect it from pests and diseases.

4. Protect it from animals.

Stake the Young/Weak Plants to Provide Support

Staking is recommended for seedlings or mature plants with weak stems. You need wooden stakes or simple posts and strings or wires to stake your plants. You may need top rails if your fence is wider.

Fix the posts on the ground and tie the strings or wires on them to form a supportive framework. You can include the rails if the strings or wires do not provide enough support. Fix the rails to the posts using the wires or small nails.

Prune the Plants- Great for Good Growth

Pruning is a great way to train your plants. By cutting back your trees or shrubs, you can achieve desirable heights and widths. Pruning also encourages growth of lateral branches, which can make your green fence bushier and more compact.

Use a pruner to cut back the taller or the longer branches. You can also shear the bush into attractive shapes. Most people cut their shrubs into rectangular or circular shapes.

During the pruning process, you can osculate your plants. Osculation is the process of joining two or more branches to grow as one branch. It is possible with only a few species of plants.

pruning | Source

When it comes to selecting the right pruning tool, there is one tool that you shouldn't fail to have for your shrubs, vines, trees and hedges, and the tool is no other than the pruning shear. Personally, I have settled on the Fiskars Bypass Pruning Shear which is the most efficient, versatile, light and user-friendly pruner out there. I keep my living fence looking smart, attractive and lively with the help of this tool.

If you are confused on which pruning tool to buy for your hedges, I recommend that you try this one offered by Fiskers - a leading manufacturer of landscaping and gardening tools. The tool itself comes with the best features, including maximum cutting capacity, fully-hardened, precision-ground steel blade (stays sharp even on heavy use) and low friction coating (prevents gumming up, improves gliding and resists rust).

Protect the Shrubs/Trees from Pests and Diseases

Most trees and shrubs are resistant to pests and diseases, so you will not strive a lot to prevent and control the harmful organisms.

Your green fence will be attracting a lot of insects, both harmful and beneficial. You should be able to know the harmful ones and control them.

Use appropriate chemicals to kill the harmful insects or the disease-causing microorganisms. You can cut or uproot the highly affected plants to control the spread of the pest or disease.

Protect the Green Fence from Animals

Your living fence may attract herbivores from the wild or even from your farm. Some pets such as cats and dogs can destroy it. So it is important to keep these animals away from it.

You can install a simple wire fence around it to protect it from animals. When it grows old, animals will not be able to pose any major threat to it. Some plants grow thorns and strong branches that resist animals.

green barrier
green barrier | Source

In Conclusion...

Now you have it. This is how to grow and maintain your hedge fence. Get all its benefits by planting and maintaining it in the best way.

Enjoy maximum security, privacy and aesthetic beauty from a well established green fence. Protect your home from harsh winds, disturbing noise and threatening snow by building a bushy and strong barrier.


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  • The Tree Council (TTC). "Hedgerow Planting: Answers to 18 Common Questions.". Natural England. (2008).
  • Brooks A., Elizabeth A. "Hedging, A Practical Handbook.". British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. (1998).
  • Brooks A., Elizabeth A. "The Hedgerow Landscape: Hedgerow Dating.". Hedging. Community Media for Berks Country. (1998).
  • Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). "Hedges: Planting/RHS Gardening.". Royal Horticultural Society (2010).
  • Stefan C. D., Erick C.M.F. "Live Fences". Cornell University. (1998).
  • Croxton P.J., Franssen W., Myhill D.G., Sparks T.H. "The Restoration of Neglected Hedges: A Comparison of Management Treatments.". Biological Conservation. (2004).

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© 2015 Januaris Saint Fores


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