5 tips for planting hedges

Hedges can be one of the most versatile design tools in your garden. Here are five tips for planting hedges with ideas on how to make the most of them in your garden design. Photographs by Sietske De Vries. 

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Hedges can be one of the most versatile design tools in your garden. Hedges that are clipped into shape add character, and gaps cut into a hedge can frame a view or lead the eye to another section of the garden. Hedges can also be used as internal walls, corridors, garden screens or a background for borders and in winter they offer shape and structure when gardens become bare. Here are a few tips to guide you on how to plant them. 

1 Think about how the hedge can lead the eye, either to another part of the garden or to the landscape beyond. Don't be afraid to trim in windows or cut a lowered section into the hedge to do this.

2 Remember to leave space around any hedges you plant so you can reach to cut them. If the hedge is large – and you have sufficient space – you might want to consider leaving room for a service path so you can use a wheelbarrow or small tractor to remove the clippings. But if you opt for the latter, be careful with thorny hedging plants. It is impossible to avoid getting a flat tyre when removing hawthorn clippings.

3 If you don’t want to spend time clipping and shaping, opt for plants that have an interesting shape without being shorn. Dwarf conifers, such as Picea glauca var. albertiana ‘Conica’ and Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Gracilis’, make such an interesting shape that clipping them would be a crime.

4 Box blight is a big problem so it's worth looking for good alternatives. Lonicera nitida, especially the cultivar ‘Maigrün’, is ideal for small hedges and Osmanthus x burkwoodii for larger hedges and topiary. However, if you still want to use a box cultivar, Buxus sinica var. insularis ‘Tide Hill’, has been found to be healthier than most.

5 Don’t forget that hedges need feeding, just like any other plant, so apply an organic fertiliser in winter.

 

Tips recommended by designer Albert Tielens

Photographs by Sietske De Vries

This article was taken from a longer feature in the November 2016 issue of Gardens Illustrated (240)

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