London (change)
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12/11/2013 at 10:12

Hi all,

I am looking at replacing a delapidated fence with a 45 degree lean at the bottom of my garden with a wildlife friendly hedge. Thorny hedges are out of the question, so I am looking at either beech or hornbeam, as they still offer a degree of winter screening. My garden is south facing and opens onto cornfields, hence the natural look rather than conifer. My question is which do I choose? Does anybody know how long they will take to establish and does anyone have any preference. I am looking at buying bare rooted plants ASAP.

Your help and advice would be greatly appreciated


12/11/2013 at 10:23

Just a thought, but what about a mixed hedge?  I planted one some years ago in a previous garden and it looks wonderful.  I used a mix of beech, hazel, hawthorn and spindle (euonymus -fabulous autumn colour).  

You could leave out the hawthorn if it's too prickly, but it's not very.  You could then plant some of the smaller flowered clematis which have wonderful seedheads in the autumn/winter, and they could weave through the hedge thickening it up which would add to the screening effect and look glorious

12/11/2013 at 10:30

Would a mixed hedge provide some winter screening as the wife and I would prefer some screening through the winter as a few people walk through the field with their dogs and we would still like some privacy

12/11/2013 at 10:37

How about honeysuckle... looks and smells great and gives winter screening. Can be pruned/trimmed as hard as you like. Give it a bit of support to get it going , light blue touch paper and stand well back!

Seriously, I and 4 neighbours share an effluent treatment plant that we have screened this way. We are pleased with it.

12/11/2013 at 10:38

Honeysuckle sounds good, could that be interplanted with other hedging plants to grow together?

12/11/2013 at 10:44

How about cotoneaster lacteus, lovely berries in winter.

12/11/2013 at 10:45

If you keep beech clipped it'll retain its autumn leaves through through the winter, so if you plant them say one beech in every three bushes, it should provide quite a good deal of privacy.   As for the others, they lose their leaves in the winter, but you'll still have the filtering effect of the branches and twigs, intertwined with clematis stems and seedheads, like you get with hedges in the countryside.  

And there are other benefits, you'll find that the hedge doesn't cast as much shade as an evergreen/solid type hedge does, and it will filter the wind rather than being buffeted and bent, which is presumably what happened to the original fence that you're replacing.

Bare root native hedge plants should establish quickly given reasonable care and within a few years you'll have a good hedge that you can trim and it'll then thicken up and provide even more privacy. 

Maybe have a look at some well-grown countryside hedges and see what you think?

12/11/2013 at 10:46

You could use honeysuckle along with the clematis to twine through the hedge - how gorgous will that be?!!! 

12/11/2013 at 10:49

All these lovely ideas makes me feel like going out and digging my beech hedge up.

12/11/2013 at 10:52

Only part of it KEF - leave a few  and pop something else inbetween them - maybe an occasional holly too! 

Love a mixed native hedgerow 

12/11/2013 at 11:22

The birds keep planting things in my beech hedge. originally just beech, it now has holly, ivy, snowberry, hazel and elder in it too. ( the hazel is probably down to the squirrels)  The ancient hawthorn hedge is also becoming a mixed hedge.

12/11/2013 at 12:13

 Hi Guys, Hijaking the feed here! I'm also in the need of a new hedge! and I'm considering all your good advice but how do you trim a mixed hedge? as surely it will all grow at different rates?


12/11/2013 at 12:41

Am loving the idea of a mixed hedge, just have to talk it through with the wife, and as you say interplanted with other species would look good and provide year round interest


12/11/2013 at 13:07

You could have green beech, purple beech, hornbeam, Acer campestre (field maple), Euonymus elatus, forsythia, flowering currant, alder, photinia red robin, escallonia, honey suckle

12/11/2013 at 13:21

Carol13. The hedges might grow at different rates, but they get one cut a year to bring them in line with big hedge trimmers. The beech(ish) hedge gets done early August. The hawthorn(ish) hedge gets done some time on a sunny day between now and end of February. If you want a hedge that looks neatly manicured all year round, you could use privet, but it will need several cuts during summer to keep it tidy.

12/11/2013 at 14:14

Cut the hedge to size and or shape you want, perhaps leaving the odd one to grow into a small tree/shrub above the others? Don't forget not to leave this too late in the spring lest you upset the nesting birds. Feb. is good.

12/11/2013 at 14:38

Out of step with many here, whatever you do NEVER plant a hedge with thorny  or prickly plants in it (unless you wish to keep out/in animals (human as well)). I have just cut our 100 feet long hawthorn/Blackthorn/Briar rose hedge and it is PAINFUL.

Next year I will cough up and pay the Road Hedge trimming tractor man to do it for me, even if it is at the wrong tiime of year for the birds. Might ask him to reduce the height by 2 feet as well so I can reach it withgout a ladder.

12/11/2013 at 14:53

These are what you need for working on prickly hedges

12/11/2013 at 15:47

What do you think I wear already?

It is as much about disposing of the trimmings as anything else.

12/11/2013 at 15:58

Oh .... got you     

Pa used to give the hedges a good short back and sides just before Bonfire Night - I suppose it 's a bit late to suggest that now  .... I'll get my coat ...........................

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