Posted: 20/10/2014 at 00:29
Welcome Dean to the forum and also, to the magical world of gardening.
So you wish to get rid of the conifers and then plant a hornbeam hedge. To be honest my friend. Taking into account the size of the plot. A bit of a tall order, nevertheless. As you will discover in time. Gardening comprises many up's and down's.
When using trees compared to shrubs, in making a hedge. Things tend to get a bit top heavy. Shrubs tend to break out much closer to the ground, whereas trees as we all know, tend to grow tall and the spread out. Hornbeam are usually used as rfoadside decoratives or a specialities in parks and formal gardens. They are very attractive trees and sadly at times rare in some localities.
Dean. To use them in a hedge, and let's be realistic here. You are disposing of the conifers mainly because they are blocking out the light. So, now resorting to a hedge. You must be considering a hedge say five and a half feet high, perhaps six and a half. To be honest. Yes there are several tree/shrub nurseries that can supply you. However my friend. You have chosen a tree that is very delicatley designed. It is well spaced in it's branching etc. So. Go ahead. It's your choice. Firstly, I consider you will have to close plant. That means probably 18" apart. Then at a very early stage. You will have to stop them. That is. Snip off the growing tip. This will cause the main stem, trunk, to send up a new shoot. This automatically causes side shoots to join in the fun. Now in a much larger area, say. A boundary fence etc around a field. Things prove different. However here on your tiny plot. You will have to weekly tend the hedge. Cutting back say halfway the laterals. They are the side growths, and at the same time keeping the leaders, the higher tips in check. Dean my friend. I wish you well.
Might you freconsider? A mixed hedge say Rosa rugosa and hawthorn? Much fast growing and much easier to control.