Prepare the ground before planting
If the ground has grass or weeds present, it is best to clear the site either by hand or by applying a systemic weedkiller in late summer/autumn. Allow plenty of space for the final size of the hedge. Please note, however, that recent research has shown that some herbicides can have a detrimental effect on wildlife and on the health of the person carrying out the spraying.
When you are ready to plant, dig a trench approximately 2’ (60cm) wide and one spade’s depth. Fork over the base of the trench to break up any compacted soil and you can add some garden compost, well rotted manure or slow release fertiliser such as sterilised bonemeal. Fork this in to the soil.
On receipt of the plants
Unwrap and inspect the plants immediately. If there are any missing or you are dissatisfied with them in any way, you must notify us within 48 hours. The plants can be stored for a few days in a cool place such as a shed, out of the wind and sun, having removed their outer packaging, but the roots must still be wrapped and kept damp.
If you are not ready to plant for a few weeks, then unwrap them completely and heel them in to a bed of soil (a vegetable bed is ideal) and water them regularly.
It is essential that the roots are never allowed to dry out, so always keep them wrapped up until the moment you put them into the ground.
We recommend planting a staggered double row of plants, approximately 5 per metre. They should be spaced 12-18” (30-45cm) apart and the second row about 18” (45cm) from the first.
Planting must not take place into frozen or waterlogged soil. If the plants have been heeled-in temporarily then extract them with care, so as not to damage the fragile roots, soak them for an hour in a bucket of water, and then place them in a sack/bag to keep the roots damp up until the moment of planting them in the ground. Place them in the prepared trench and back-fill with the soil and any incorporated fertiliser ensuring that the roots are completely covered. Firm the soil and then water.
Another method of planting (as long as the soil is not heavy clay) is known as slit planting, where you simply make a slit with the spade, rock it to and fro to widen the slit, and then carefully fit the roots in and firm the soil with your boot.
If you are likely to have a problem with rabbits, then it is best to protect the plants with spiral guards. Position a bamboo cane as close to the plant as possible and then fit the spiral guard around them starting at the bottom and working up.
Hedges need to be watered, particularly in the first year, but ideally for up to 3 years. Check the hedge regularly in the first Winter, Spring & Summer, and if the soil is very dry then water each plant copiously. Depending on how much rainfall there is, it might also be necessary to water in Spring and Summer during the second and third years after planting.
It is extremely important to keep the area around the base of the hedge (at least 3’ or 1m width) clear of weeds so that the plants can draw sufficient nutrients and water from the soil. This can be done by hand weeding, applying a mulch or laying a fabric membrane (there are biodegradable ones made of hemp grown in the UK), but if using a membrane you have to lay it on the soil first and cut slits in it through which to plant.
Hedges will do best if they are given a feed of slow-release fertiliser and/or well rotted compost in Spring and early Summer each year.
Native hedgerow species can be pruned by a third (or even more for Hawthorn, Blackthorn and Wild Privet) in the first year of planting to encourage side shoots and a thickening of the hedge.
Most pruning takes place in mid-late Summer. If you have the space then it is better from a wildlife point of view if you cut the hedge only every 2-3 years. Also, you could cut just one side of the hedge on alternate years, thus providing more fruit and berries to develop for the birds.
When undertaking work on garden hedges you should check that there are no birds nesting as it is an offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 to damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built.
Thank you for choosing plants from Really Wild Flowers. We appreciate your business.
Really Wild Flowers
H.V. Horticulture Ltd.
Last Updated: 02/08/2012