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How to Grow Bare Root Hedging

Bare root hedging is a quick, easy, and environmentally friendly way of planting a new hedge. There are loads of benefits to growing a hedge in your garden. Not only are they natural barriers to section your outdoor space, but they’re also incredible for wildlife. Hedges provide food and shelter to all kinds of wildlife like birds, insects, and small animals. We’ve put together a guide to choosing and planting bare root hedging to create the perfect, wildlife-friendly hedge.

How to Plant Bare Root Hedging

1. Choosing your plants

To get started, you’ll need to pick out your plants. While you can read our full article on choosing garden plants, here’s a quick list of what you should take into consideration:

  • The soil type and pH
  • How much sun your garden gets
  • How much space you have available
  • How you want the plants to look

Once you know what the conditions are like in your garden, use the quick care guides below to see which bare root hedging plants will thrive there.

2. Preparing the ground

Make sure the ground is workable, not frozen or waterlogged. Map out where you’d like your hedge to be and start clearing the area. Remove grass, weeds, and any other perennials, ensuring you remove as much of the roots as possible. Use a garden fork to dig over the area. At this stage, you’ll be able to remove any other debris like rocks or rubbish that’s made its way into the ground. Dig over the soil up to about 30cm deep.

3. Spacing out planting holes

While you could dig out a whole trench to plant your hedge, digging individual holes can make it easier to keep your plants upright as you work with them. Some plants – such as hornbeam and beech – should be planted in single rows, while some – such as hawthorn and hazel – can be planted in a double, staggered row. To keep the rows straight, you could set up a string along the area to use as a guide.

Space out your planting holes enough to give each individual plant plenty of room to grow. Allow enough room for the current root system and consider how much the plant will grow in the future.

4. Planting and heeling in

Place the root system into the planting hole and fill in the hole with soil. Firm the soil down to remove any large air pockets and ensure that the plant is stable. However, make sure not to compact the soil too much as this can impact the health of the root system.

5. Watering and mulching

Once all of your plants are in the ground, thoroughly water the area and apply a mulch. Watering will help the plants establish in their new home, and the mulch will help to hold in that moisture and prevent weeds from growing around the base of the plants.

6. Ongoing care

Make sure the soil stays moist for the first few months of growth. As time goes on, you won’t need to water as frequently as the plants will be better established. Prune your hedge to its desired shape, removing any dead or damaged material that may appear over time. Remember to check the pruning needs of the species that you’ve planted.

Quick Care Guides for Different Bare Root Hedging Plants

Buckthorn

Sunlight exposureFull sun, partial sun.
Soil type and pHFertile, well-drained, acidic or neutral soils.
WateringMoist soil is preferred but it will tolerate dry spells.
PruningPrune in the spring.
FertilisingNot always necessary. Apply a slow-release fertiliser in the spring if needed.
Flowering timeSpring

Dogwood

Sunlight exposureFull sun, partial shade.
Soil type and pHFertile, well-drained, neutral or slightly acidic soils.
WateringSoil should be kept moist.
PruningPrune between late winter and midspring.
FertilisingApply a balanced feed in the spring.
Flowering timeWinter to late spring.

Field Maple

Sunlight exposureFull sun, partial shade.
Soil type and pHFertile, well-drained, neutral or slightly alkaline soils.
WateringSoil should be kept moist. Established plants may not need extra water.
PruningPrune in early winter to maintain shape.
FertilisingApply a balanced feed in early spring.
Flowering timeLate spring

Snowball Bush

Sunlight exposureFull sun, partial shade.
Soil type and pHWell-drained, slightly acidic to slightly alkaline.
WateringSoil should be kept moist.
PruningPrune in spring after flowering.
FertilisingApply a slow-release fertiliser in the spring.
Flowering timeSpring.

Rose Bush

Sunlight exposureSpecies dependent – some will thrive in sunny spots or shade.
Soil type and pHFertile, well-drained, neutral or slightly acidic soils.
WateringSoil should be kept moist.
PruningPrune in the spring to maintain shape.
FertilisingFeed in early spring as new leaves appear.
Flowering timeEarly summer.

Blackthorn

Sunlight exposureFull sun, partial shade.
Soil type and pHFertile, well-drained, neutral soils.
WateringOnly regularly water young plants, or during hot and dry spells.
PruningPrune in winter, but not in freezing temperatures.
FertilisingApply an all-purpose fertiliser only to nutrient-poor soils.
Flowering timeSpring.

Crab Apple

Sunlight exposureFull sun.
Soil type and pHHeavy, well-drained, neutral soils.
WateringKeep soil moist for young plants. Only water established plants during dry spells.
PruningEarly spring and early winter, but not during freezing temperatures.
FertilisingApply a slow-release fertiliser in autumn or late winter.
Flowering timeMid-late spring.

Beech

Sunlight exposureFull sun, partial shade.
Soil type and pHWell-drained, neutral soils.
WateringWater young plants regularly. Only water established plants during dry spells.
PruningPrune between autumn and early spring.
FertilisingApply a balanced feed in the spring, but not in the first growing season.
Flowering timeMid-late spring.

Hawthorn

Sunlight exposureFull sun, partial shade.
Soil type and pHFertile, well-drained, neutral or slightly acidic soils.
WateringThe soil should be watered regularly in the growing season, and kept slightly moist in the winter.
PruningPrune between March and August.
FertilisingApply a general purpose fertiliser in the early spring.
Flowering timeMidspring to early summer.

Hazel

Sunlight exposureFull sun, partial shade.
Soil type and pHWell-drained, low nutrient, acidic or neutral soils.
WateringWater young plants regularly. Only water established plants during dry spells.
PruningPrune from late winter to midspring.
FertilisingOnly apply fertiliser to very nutrient-poor soils.
Flowering timeMid-late winter.

Hornbeam

Sunlight exposureFull sun, partial shade.
Soil type and pHWell-drained, acidic or neutral soils.
WateringThe soil should be kept moist in the growing season, and slightly moist in the winter.
PruningPrune to shape in the beginning of June and the beginning of September.
FertilisingApply a slow-release fertiliser in the early spring.
Flowering timeSpring.
Updated on March 26, 2024

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