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Hornbeam Hedge

Hi everyone! first post here, I look forward to learning lots and contributing where I can.
I've got a long hedge to plant (approx 150m). I want to provide some cover for wildlife and like the all year round cover that hornbeam offers. The site is partially shaded by a row of lime trees and the ground is quite heavy with clay and flint so I opted for hornbeam over beech.
Although I've done my research there's a few points that nurseries seem to offer different advice on. 

I plan to plant two rows staggered, some nurseries say up to 7 plants per meter but other say their whips should be planted 0.6 meters apart which means 2/3 plants per metre between the two rows. What is the general consensus?

The hedge is to be planted along the edge of a field which has nettles and grass growing. I sprayed off this area with weedkiller 4 weeks ago, should I now bring in a mini digger to dig a trench or can I just use a rabbit spade to plant directly in to the ground as is?



  • P.s I've changed my username to 'Southdowner' on the main GW page via my settings but for some reason it's still showing as the computer generated username on the forum??
  • Fixed (above) Hurrah!
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,235
    Welcome aboard Southdowner  :)
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • I did something similar (though on a much smaller scale) many years ago, and I too opted for hornbeam over beech as I had a very heavy clay soil. I dug a trench in the grass and planted two, staggered, rows with the whips about 0.5m apart. I then put ground membrane down around the base of all the plants to keep the grass at bay. I watered copiously every week in spring and summer for the first year. Worked just fine! The hedge was good and thick and eight feet high in four years. I think I cut the plants back by a third for the first two years, but I can't remember for sure.
  • Thanks Dove!
    Thank you DGM, thats a good idea with the membrane, would mulch have the same affect?

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,868
    Mulch would be more in keeping with your idea of provision for wildlife. Wildlife is in the soil, membranes interfere with the natural state of soil and its inhabitants.
    Chemicals and wildlife don't sit together easily :( 
  • Quite agree, thanks NC
  • Because I have so many whips to go in, could I pre-dig the holes so they're all ready for when the whips arrive?
    Also, should I dig deeper and in-fill with something to try to improve the soil to give the new plants the best chance?   
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,391
    Current advice is to not add compost etc. to the hole when planting trees.  The idea is that the roots tend to stay in the enriched area istead of spreading out into the surrounding soil.  In clay soils, holes filled with compost tend to act like sumps which can cause roots to rot.  I'd just plant and water them before mulching which will help keep the ground moist and reduce competition from grass/weeds, which is important if they are to establish properly.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Thanks Bob. No harm in pre-digging the holes though?
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