How to Plant a Native Hedge

Hedges can be a useful addition to your garden in a number of different ways. Hedges can create a wind break, provide shelter or shade, give a little privacy, increase biodiversity and be a boon to native wildlife. If you are considering creating a new hedge for your garden or outdoors space then here are a few things you should bear in mind when making your purchasing decisions and implementing your plans:

Preparation:

When you have decided to create a native hedge in your garden the first task is to make sure that the ground is adequately prepared to receive the plants. Bear in mind that your hedge will be in place for (with a bit of luck) many years and so you must make sure that your plants get the best start possible. Make sure that the plants have the conditions they need to become established quickly and healthily. Remove all weeds and any large rocks or other debris. Dig over the area and incorporate a good amount of organic material to ensure that the site is fertile and soil health will be maintained.

Plant Choices:

When it comes to choosing the type of hedge you require, be sure to think not just of your own requirements but also about the conditions where you live. Always choose plants that are suited to your environment. Plants that are native to your area will usually fare better than plants that thrive more effectively elsewhere and will also be better for the native wildlife, who are adapted to live in an ecosystem with familiar plant types. A wilder hedge of mixed native planting will not look as neat or orderly as a hedge of privet or leylandii, but it will provide far more visual interest throughout the year and will cause fewer problems for you as a garden and for the creatures with whom you share your space. Choose a mixture of native shrubs and trees. The cheapest way to establish such a hedge is to buy whips. Whips are young, bare-root saplings that can be bought from many garden centres and plant nurseries.

Planting:

When you initially plant them, whips will not look like much, but you will be astonished by how quickly they establish themselves and form a more solid barrier, adding bountiful leafy foliage in the spring. Buy the whips between late autumn and early spring and plant out at some point when the ground is not frozen or waterlogged. Plant the whips in a staggered double row around half a metre apart. Exact spacing will depend on each tree or shrub and exactly how big and how quickly it is expected to grow. This is not an exact science though it is always better to be generous when it comes to spacing as you can always add in extra plants if you have to at a later stage.

After you plant your hedge, give it extra care and attention until it is established. Mulch well and water when necessary, pruning when required.

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