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Tips for Growing Garden Hedges

hedges - our tips for growing garden hedges will help you grow hedges like these.

Hedges are often an attractive and functional part of a home garden.   The process of developing a good hedge is generally straightforward, however, there are a few things you can do to make sure you get the best hedge for your garden.  

Follow our tips and you’ll be growing garden hedges that your neighbours envy before you know it.

First of all have a good think about the following:  

A) Size of hedge you want – pick a hedge plant which is appropriate for your needs. 

B) Growing conditions – is the hedge plant you pick correct for your soil and climate  

C) Life span – most people who plant a hedge expect it to grow for many years, will the plant you choose last ?  

D) Speed of growth – hedge plants grow at all different rates, fast growing hedges need more pruning & and slower hedges less pruning.   

E) Sun or shade – this is an important factor, if you want a nice consistent looking hedge it needs to be able to grow in the light conditions which are prevailing, in some situations you need a hedge that can take both light and shade for part of the day.  

F) Pest problems – does the hedge you have chosen have pest problems in your area ?  We have listed a number of different tips for you in the following pages.   Have a scan through these articles, you may find some useful ideas to help you create the best hedge for your garden. 

Planting, creating hedges & hedge plants

One of the secrets of growing garden hedges is the initial set-up of your hedge.   

Many people take a “try and see approach” when planting a hedge.  However, we have found this to be the major error people make when planting a hedge.

Have a good think about all the factors that may impact of the growth of your hedge, before you plant. Hedges generally last many years and it is difficult to dig out your hedge, if it is not doing what you had expected. As the old proverb says ‘act in haste, repent at leisure’ 

One of the tricks to choosing your hedge is to see what hedges are growing in your local area. This will give you a pretty good starting point.  At least you know that the plant will grow in your region.  Do some research, particularly on pests and soil conditions.   

Another tip to growing garden hedges is to do with the size of your hedge.  Pick a hedge which will grow to around the height you require. It will cut down on hassles later if you do this and reduce maintenance.  Many times even experienced gardeners will choose plants for hedges which do grow much taller than the required height, this is generally because they are quick growing or suited to the soil conditions. 

The drawback to this is that the hedge in questions may need more and regular maintenance to keep in under control. 

We find that when planting a new hedge, it is best to place one plant after another, in a straight line.  Some gardeners stagger their hedge plants, in a zig-zag layout.  We find that this has many drawbacks particularly to do with the final look and shape of the hedge.   Doing a shape like this tends to make the hedge very broad and leaves gaps in the hedge.  

The spacing of hedge plants is of primary importance.  When deciding how to space your hedge investigate two major issues:  

  1. How tall you want the hedge to grow 
  2. How tall will the plant you have chosen grow. 

Basically, when working out spacing the trick is:

the lower you want the hedge to grow, the closer you plant it,  the taller you want the hedge to grow the further you space the plants apart“.

This is particularly true of tall hedges, if you place them too close together, plants may be stunted and produce weak growth. 

Generally it is worth talking to your local plant nurseryman regards the layout of your hedge for your area. It could save you a lot of time and effort and make the job look more attractive in the end.

To read our ultimate guide to the best hedging plants for all climates, locations and purposes please click here. It’s exhaustive and comprehensive and you will find the perfect hedging plant for your situation.

Thinking of a pot plant for the house, office, patio or garden then please investigate our in-depth guide to the best potted plants for the home and take note of our smart tips for growing healthy home container plants. Both should be essential reading if you’re serious about pot plants.

How to create a straight/level hedge

When you are planting your new hedge we find it is best to prepare your garden bed first,  then position all your plants in a line,  before you plant.

Place your hedge plants on the ground in the exact place where they are going to be planted,  you can then move them around till you get the right positioning.  

Some gardeners use a “string line” to position their hedge.    The “string line” is placed over the garden bed and then a line is draw on the ground.  Stakes are then placed in position along the line to mark the where the plants are going to be planted. This ensures that the hedge will be straight.

When it comes to keeping your hedge height level, it is more of a pruning issue.  You can maintain the height levels easily if you prune your hedge regularly. Once you have a good shape it is then a simple task of trimming off the small developing stems, back to the bulk of the hedge.

growing garden hedges - a lawn, a hedge and a wooden bench

Tricks & tips for pruning hedges & hedge plants

Many gardeners find it hard to keep their hedge in shape.  One of the simplest tricks to keep your hedge in shape is to prune it regularly.  

Once you have established the initial shape of your hedge, you can then just regularly prune off the excess growth that has developed.  

How often should you prune your hedge ? 

Well this depends on the variety of hedge plant you are using.   However, during the growing season you may have to prune your hedge from once a month, to once every three months, depending on the variety of plant you are using.  

If you have a large hedge or one which is difficult to prune it may be worth having a professional prune it into shape for you.   Once this has been done then it is a case of continuing to maintain the hedge at this shape and height level.

For more on both selecting the plants when growing garden hedges, and keeping your hedges pruned, see here.

How to keep a level cut on your hedge?

To create a nice level cut on your hedge it can be a bit tricky, but there are a few things you can do to create a straight, level hedge.  A gardener with hedge shears can prune a hedge using visual estimation,  sighting the line to cut and then shaping as required.

However, you can also do this by using a builders “string line” (basically a length of string). Place a stake at each end of the hedge, run a “string line” from one stake to the other at the height you require.  

You can then use the hedging shears to trim the hedge to the level of the “string line”, creating a level hedge.   You can then also prune off the side of your hedge to the width you require.  

What tools to use for pruning hedges?

There are a number of different types of tools suitable for pruning hedges.   

1. Manual hedge trimmers – although this is labour intensive, many professionals still like to use manual pruners.   Manual hedge trimmers tend to take a small amount of trimming each cut.  This allows the user to clip away at the hedge, till the right shape is acquired.   

2. Petrol power hedge trimmers – in recent years these machines have become more available.   They are very useful if you have a large, fast growing hedge, with big stems.   These machines are fantastic, however they can be heavy and you need some experience to use them as they can cut foliage very quickly.   

3. Plug-in electric hedge trimmers – these are also very good although not usually as powerful as the Petrol trimmers.   They have the advantage of being light to use, but are not always suited to cutting through heavy stems.   One disadvantage of using an electric style type trimmer is the power cord, which requires care to use. 

4. Rechargeable hedge trimmers – these have been around around for a few years and are improving, but they are generally not suited to large hedges.   They are however excellent for small hedges, especially if you purchase one with a long lasting battery. 

We have recently published what we believe to be one of the most comprehensive guides to hedges and hedging plants. If you are looking to find the best hedging plant for your location, soil type, climate and garden please check out the links below.

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