Not only is autumn the best season for new plants to get established, it’s also a great time to buy hedging plants as cheaper bare-root plants.
Garden centres usually sell bare-root hedging plants root-wrapped in bundles of ten, or you can bulk order direct from nurseries. Bare-root plants become available in mid- to late autumn, so ground preparation is best in early autumn.
You Will Need
- Garden spade
- Soft string or twine
- Mycorrhizal fungi
Unwrap the bundle of bare-root plants as soon as they arrive and stand them in a bucket of water to dampen the roots. If you can’t plant them straight away, heel them in temporarily – dig a hole in a spare area of ground, stand the bundle of plants in it and cover the roots with soil. This keeps the roots cool, damp and in good health. Drying out or overheating is fatal, even to dormant plants.
Set out a string line along the planting site to ensure the hedge will be straight. Check the correct spacing for your chosen hedge plants, then lay them out along the row. Deciduous native hedging plants (such as hazel, hawthorn and blackthorn) can be planted in a double staggered row, while most others (such as yew, beech and hornbeam) should be planted singly.
Dig a planting trench that is wide enough for the roots to spread out. If adding mycorrhizal fungi, which are particularly beneficial to bare-root plants, sprinkle over the wet roots and mix into the excavated soil. Place the plants at the same depth they were growing previously, then backfill the hole and firm down well. But take care not to over-compact the soil around the plants’ small root systems.
Prune deciduous plants to encourage bushy growth to develop from low down. Cut back hawthorn, blackthorn and privet to 30cm high, and just lightly prune other deciduous hedging – evergreens won’t need pruning yet – then water thoroughly. Where necessary, protect the plants from rabbits or deer using spiral guards around the stem. For the first year, water during long dry spells and keep weed free.
Bare-root hedging plants
With bare-root plants, it’s essential to ensure the roots are covered and moist at all times.
Pruning after planting
- Cut out any dead, damaged or diseased stems, back to healthy growth
- Remove weak, straggly or crossing stems to stimulate vigorous growth
- Certain plants, including fruit bushes, raspberries and roses benefit from hard pruning straight away, to encourage bushy growth
- Always cut back to an outward-facing bud, to avoid growth becoming congested