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Cutting back Hawthorn whips

MikekallyMikekally Dublin, IrelandPosts: 13
edited December 2018 in Problem solving
Hi there, we have a 5-6m stretch of Hawthorn whips we planted Feb 2017 along our front boundary picket fence. Unfortunately they're all very bare at the base and all the bushy growth is almost 2ft from groundlevel. Am I OK to cut them right back almost to ground level now, and hope the root development is enough to help them sprout new bushier growth from the base in spring? If so, should I do this now before frost/snow sets in, or wait till spring? Thanks in advance
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  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Scariff, County Clare, IrelandPosts: 7,848
    Yes, you're fine to cut them back really hard - I think I might wait until late winter.  You can be pretty brutal, and your hedge will thicken up beautifully.
    "The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life."  Rabindranath Tagore
  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,843
    I wouldn't cut them right to the ground, I'd leave 3 or 4 buds 
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Scariff, County Clare, IrelandPosts: 7,848
    Thanks, Nut.  Forgot to say that.
    "The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life."  Rabindranath Tagore
  • MikekallyMikekally Dublin, IrelandPosts: 13
    Thanks @Liriodendron @nutcutlet I'll leave it a while so - although if I cut above the 3rd or 4th bud I'd still be a good foot from the ground, they're very bare near the base, no nodes at all. They must've grown fast and tall
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,062
    When they’re bigger you could ‘lay’ the hedge ... that’d give you plenty of coverage at the base.  :)
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • MikekallyMikekally Dublin, IrelandPosts: 13
    Will do @Dovefromabove! I'm going to try cutting them back hard to the 3rd bud as suggested above, maybe in Feb. Hopefully that'll do the job, but I know I'll probably have to lay them in another 7-8 years or so to keep them full at the base. Thanks for the suggestions, everyone 😊
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,543
    When we planted our hawthorn whips they were at least 2 to 3' tall but I cut them back to 9" and they made a very fine hedge.   Cutting your back to 3 or 4 buds now, before the sap starts to rise in January should give you a good thickening effect.    Ours grew 6' easily each year so the second year we cut it back to 3' high and then kept it trimmed to 6' high and cut back side growth to give us the thick hedge we were after. 
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • MikekallyMikekally Dublin, IrelandPosts: 13
    Great thank you so much @Obelixx that's exactly how we want ours to get eventually 
  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 2,997
    Obelixx
    6' of growth in a year???......what were you feeding them on?? ;)
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,543
    Very fertile soil and lots of Belgian rain.   Didn't expect them to grow that fast but they did and we ended up with a wonderfull thick and healthy hedge that became a sparrow conference centre and their refuge from the sparrowhawk.  Very busy hedge.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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