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Any suggestions please, We are removing a brick wall and would like to replace it with a suitable plant to make a hedge. The hedge would be north facing. Would ideally like a fast growing plant.
Tell us more about the soil as that makes a difefrence. for example, beech doesn't like to have its feet wet but hornbeam doesn't mind heavy, claggy ground. Both will grwo quite fast and dense if kept clipped and can be kept quite narrow too thus saving space. Both are deciduous but keep their autumnal brown leaves if pruned before the end of July.
Hawthorns are also fast growing but are thorny - good for deterring unwanted visitors and protecting birds. It plays host to lots of insects and has spring flowers for nectar and then fruits for birds in autumn.
In the evergreen ranges, yew is good and can be clipped very neatly but it's very dark green and the clippings and fruits are poisonous so not a good idea if you have small children around. Other conifers will grow rapidly but can easily run away with you and do not recover if you clip back into brown wood. Laurel is a thug. The more you prune the more it grows and its large leaves look dreadful when cut with hedge trimmers. Privet is an option if your situation is not too exposed.
As ever, good soil preparation is the key to success so dig a decent trench and backfill with plenty of added compost and/or well rotted manure. Don't buy the biggest plants as they take longer to establish. my hawthorn hedge started as single stemmed whips which I pruned back to 9" after planting. It grows 6' a year which is something else to consider - maintenance.
Many thanks for your reply, you have given us some options and we really appeciate your advice. We have very heavy clay soil, and if Hawthorn will grow in it that would be our choice. We had not considered Hawthorn and had forgotten how pretty it looks in spring. Thank you.
My hawthorn hedge is on clay soil but with plenty of organic matter and good drainage. we have hawthorns across the road growing alongside a stream running through boggy pasture so I have to assume they don't mind having damp feet.
Too help yours along, take the time to clear all the bricks and crud away from where the wall was and then dump on plenty of well rotted garden compost and manure all along the planting line and maybe some grit if you can to open up the soil and aerate it. Be patient and plan to plant in autumn when you can but bare root whips very cheaply. Fork over the line, rake it roughly smooth and soak yur whip roots in a bucket of cold or tepid water for at least an hour to rehydrate their roots.
Plant every 9 to 18 inches depending on how dense you want it to be and firm in. Prune back to about 9 or 12inches high and water well. They should spend the winter growing new roots and then you'll get shoots in spring when they're ready. Cut them in late spring to mid summer to about 2' below your eventual desired height. This will encourage them to thicken up.
Thank you for your answer, we will wait until the autumn as you suggest, we have never planted a hedge before and your advice has given us the confidence to go ahead with it, we will be doing as you adviced. Thank you.