Alexandra Campbell champions growing your own hedge
Alexandra Campbell champions growing your own hedge.
NOW is a good time to plant a hedge (unless you are already getting frosts). May I ask you to consider adding a little more hedging to your life?
Hedges are wonderful for wildlife. In Britain, you can usually grow a hedge a little higher than a fence, so they are good for privacy, too.
And they are a compact way of increasing greenery in your environment so they improve air quality.
At RHS Wisley, there is a display for “Greening Grey Britain”, which shows a front garden with a small, low hedge as a divider between the parking space and the front path.
It’s neatly clipped and takes up very little space. But it’s useful at neutralising car exhausts and looks smart, too.
There’s a delightful new trend for “edible hedges”. A mixed hedge of elderberries, dog roses, hazel, crab apples and wild currants will give you flowers, nuts and berries for making jams, jellies and cordials. Or it’ll provide food for birds and pollinating insects.
If you have a small or narrow garden, you may think a hedge takes up too much space. A friend’s garden is around 18 ft x 30 ft. She’s used the fencing as support for climbers. Her “hedging” is made of ivy, blackberries, passionflower, honeysuckle and dog roses.
She allows the climbers to flower and fruit (for wildlife) and ties or trims back individual stems if the plants threaten to get too bulky.
Hedges also make a good backdrop for your planting. A neat green privet hedge is a very attractive foil for flowers, as well as sheltering smaller birds from their bigger predators.
People can be nervous about choosing the right hedge. Discuss your soil and aspect with a specialist hedge or tree nursery.
Garden centres are great, but they don’t always have qualified staff who know what will suit your needs.
However, many British hedges are easy to grow, such as beech, hawthorn and privet. If you’re planning a hedge in a shady or very damp spot, then do consult a hedging supplier.
It’s also worth planting the hedge properly. I have a privet hedge. Four plants were basically just stuck in the earth nine years ago. They took around five years to turn into a “proper” hedge.
Last autumn I decided to extend it by another four plants. This time, I took great care to plant them properly. (See my “How To Plant A Hedge” video on the Middlesized Garden Youtube channel.)
I dug a trench, filled it with a mix of tree compost and well-rotted manure, then added mycorrhizal fungi near the roots and watered it well. The four new plants are almost where I want them to be after just one year.
So how much does a hedge cost? If you plant at this time of year, you can buy “bare-root hedging”. The rest of the year, you will need to buy more expensive hedging in pots.
Young bare-root hedging is very cheap – usually around £1 to £4 a plant. But it will take three or more years to be a proper hedge.
Or you can buy an instant hedge from most hedging companies. This will literally be ten times more expensive (or more!) at around £20 to £40 plus a plant. But you will get the look you want immediately. Happy hedging! n