Forum home Plants

Hedging for clay water logged soil?

GillarooGillaroo Posts: 17
Hello all, 
This is my first post. I am hoping some experienced people might be able to suggest some ideas.  I am desperate to create some screening for privacy. It's a one acre garden with clay soil, much of winter it is water logged. In summer, in summer soil is hard as a rock and cracking. Needless to say, tough conditions for any plant to grow in. I have planted some alder trees and they are doing ok.  

I was wondering if anyone has ideas on what could possibly grow as a hedge in these conditions? I've never seen alder as a hedge, so I'm not sure if that would work? It's also a windy site with predominantly SW winds. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. 
«1

Posts

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,739
    Hi @ekooister - the first thing you need to do is put some effort into improving the soil.
    That will pay off in bucket loads, and give you a lot more scope.
    Create a wide border by lifting turf, and getting a load of manure on it, which will work into the soil and improve the drainage. When you plant, some compost worked into the holes and surrounding soil will also help. 
    You could then plant a mixed hedge - hawthorn will be fine and so will hornbeam, and alder probably would be too. You can also plant on a slight rise, so that the whips are slightly higher than the surrounds. Once you get something in place, it will also help with the condition of the soil. 
    You'll have to prepared for some hedging to fail though, as a windy site brings it's own problems, but the hedge will eventually be a shelter belt, allowing for other planting inside it. You can also erect some windbreak mesh to help plants establish. 

    It's worth spending time over the next few months doing that, and then buy bare root whips for planting in autumn. Much cheaper too, and you can also plant a double row, which helps with coverage, and will ultimately make a better barrier. 
    Without seeing the site and having more info, that's as much as I can offer in the way of advice.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....



    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • SkandiSkandi Posts: 1,723
    edited June 2020
    Willow would be my go to, having had exactly your issues. Other plants that managed to thrive were Rosa rugosa, privet, snowberries, alder. Our hedges were Elm which is not a good choice as it needs cutting around 6 times a year and is totally useless in winter.
    Privet is an obvious hedge, but rugosa and snowberries also grow well as a thicket which forms a hedge like shape, however both have a tendency to creep so need mowing round to contain them.
    I had no hawthorn survive in the wet areas, though it grew fine on the banks and didn't mind the wind. well I say didn't mind, everything grew at a 45 degree angle but it survived!
  • GillarooGillaroo Posts: 17
    Thank you all for the comments/suggestions.

    I will take on board the soil prep and planting suggestions. 

    I planted a couple of weeping willows in with the alder, but unfortunately, they are not doing well. I don't know if that is any indication of if willow would grow? 

    I'm not familiar with Lonicera nitida but a Google search says it needs well drained soil - so that's out for the water logged winters. 


  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601
    My garden has your conditions and in one part we have a well established beech hedge. We have been here 30 years and I would guess the trees were at least that when we arrived. It is very dense, beautiful and easy to care for.
  • GillarooGillaroo Posts: 17
    Posy said:
    My garden has your conditions and in one part we have a well established beech hedge. We have been here 30 years and I would guess the trees were at least that when we arrived. It is very dense, beautiful and easy to care for.
    That's strange....  I'd love a beech hedge! Everyone I've spoken to from garden centres and different nurseries tell me they aren't suitable of the soil, they tell me beech hedge need free draining soil for their roots. Perhaps soil was imported for the hedge? 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,739
    Hornbeam is far more tolerant of wet conditions than Beech, and very similar.
    It really depends on the extent of the waterlogging etc too.
    Nothing is going to really thrive without some initial prep, and that's really the key factor. Once whips get established, they will cope, and improve the conditions :)

    Hawthorn grows at an angle here too @Skandi ;) 
    It's the go to hedge though, for stock, and once established, copes with all kinds of weather. Raising the soil level and planting on a 'mound' if needed, helps too. It then provides a good shelter belt for other planting inside it, including more hedging. Lonicera n. will actually cope with quite a bit of wet soil, andprivet likes a lot of moisture.
    Depends what else you're planning to do @Gillaroo , and without seeing the site, it's difficult to advise further. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....



    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 7,079
    Fairygirl is right - put some work into your soil and your options and rate of success will drastically improve. Trees are far less picky about soil type than small garden plants - they grow in the subsoil not the topsoil, so pH matters more than other qualities. Shallow soils with bedrock near the surface are the ones that trees can be difficult in. On the whole, unless it's actually a marsh, wet soil isn't a problem and deep clay soil is positively an asset.
    If it is actually a marsh, consider building 'hedgebanks' to raise the trees above the water line so they don't rot at the point where the roots meet the 'trunk'. They don't have to be very high to work. You can grow pretty much any of the shrubs suggested above the same way. This is the normal way the field hedges around us are made because we have wet clay soil on a cold windy site.

    Rosa Rugosa makes a good hedge but it suckers like mad once established and it can be hard to control. I love it but plenty on here will tell you to keep well away if you want low maintenance. It's not fond of being waterlogged.
    If you want evergreens, apart from eleagnus ebbingei which is the classic seaside hedge, you need to look at either small leaved (coniferous) or very hard leaved (holly) to cope with the wind. Willow doesn't seem to like the windy site, although goat willow grows like topsy (but then, it does that everywhere).
    My garden hedges are mostly rose family which is famously clay happy - crab apple, bullace, blackthorn and rugosa - with some hazel, lots of elder and some holly and hawthorn. I've done quite a lot of work on my soil though.
    Gardening on the edge of Exmoor, in Devon

    “It's still magic even if you know how it's done.” 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,739
    I forgot about Eleagnus @raisingirl,   but yes- raising the soil is what I'd do, which is why I suggested it too. Gives more scope for choosing plants. 
    I didn't suggest conifers, or good old cherry laurel, which would be fine, but it's the maintenance of them that can be hard work, depending on the amount, and how much time the OP has. 
    I'd agree with your choices too - all brilliant for a mixed hedge to give shelter. There's lots of rugosa, holly  and elder in hedges round here.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....



    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • bertrand-mabelbertrand-mabel Posts: 2,647
    We are on heavy clay soil and our beech and hornbeam hedges have done very well for years (40!).
    They are both lovely hedges and can be cut back to the size you want fairly easily.
    At the time we were new to gardening and didn't improve the soil at all as we had no idea that it wasn't (supposedly) suitable.
    They are with us still.
  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286
    Gillaroo said:
    Hello all, 
    This is my first post. I am hoping some experienced people might be able to suggest some ideas.  I am desperate to create some screening for privacy. It's a one acre garden with clay soil, much of winter it is water logged. In summer, in summer soil is hard as a rock and cracking. Needless to say, tough conditions for any plant to grow in. I have planted some alder trees and they are doing ok.  

    I was wondering if anyone has ideas on what could possibly grow as a hedge in these conditions? I've never seen alder as a hedge, so I'm not sure if that would work? It's also a windy site with predominantly SW winds. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. 
    I would look at what is grown locally. We have the same sort of soil, the local hedgerows are full of hawthorn and blackthorn. I went for the hawthorn, one end of the hedge is always a bog, the other is bone dry in summer. Has grown happily.
Sign In or Register to comment.