Now is the perfect time for planting and there are lots of bare-root (these are plants sold in their dormant state with their roots exposed) bargains to be had.
I’ve always thought beech (Fagus sylvatica) makes a wonderful hedge. Not only do you get its wonderful green leaves during the summer but it hangs onto its dried autumn leaves giving you this rich russet coloured hedge throughout the winter months. It is a native hedge that I am hoping will encourage more wildlife into my garden.
Soil preparation is the key!
Firstly I marked out a strip approximately 75cm wide and lifted the turf. I then began digging over the soil. I’m lucky enough to have inherited good soil at this house and it is easy to work. If anything it is perhaps a little on the light side so will definitely benefit from lots of organic matter. I added plenty of garden compost whilst digging and finally finished with a sprinkle of fertiliser (blood fish and bone – 60g per sq m)
To make sure my hedge was nice and straight I set up a line down the middle of the strip to plant against. I’ve spaced my plants 60cm apart and used a cane this length to keep checking the distance as I went.
That’s all the hard work done….now just the simple job of planting. Dig a hole, spread the roots out and ensure you are planting them at the same depth that they have been grown (use the soil mark on the stem as your guide). Back fill with soil ensuring you work it between the root and firm in. Give your hedge a good water and thick layer of mulch to suppress any weeds and keep the moisture in. I trimmed the tips of the shoots on my plants to encourage branching and help establish a thick hedge.
- Feed in spring with general fertiliser - Growmore or organic chicken pellets.
- Keep the ground free from weeds.
- Mulch to help keep in moisture and suppress weeds.
- Water, especially during the first 2-3 years when the hedge is getting established.
- Prune to establish even growth, trimming the side at an angle leaving it thicker at the base (1m) and tapering upwards.
Is Beech for you?
Likes - a well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade
Dislikes - cold or exposed sites or poorly draining heavy soils