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Replanting hedge: Kill roots or remove roots?

I have a quick privet hedge that I want to replant with something new, probably Cotoneaster. However, I'm not sure whether to just cut it down as low as possible, kill the roots and plant into the old soil OR remove the roots altogether. The first option would be cheaper but the old roots and stumps are tightly packed and I'm not sure how easy it would be to plant new shrubs through it and whether the new plants would thrive. Digging through the remains of the old hedge would be a struggle I think, but could I perhaps use a metal pole to break through and make holes for planting? My gardener said he could pull the old roots out by chain, but at a higher cost of course, which would make planting a lot simpler. The hedge is about 5m long.
Any advice welcome!
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  • You say your first option is to cut the hedge down and kill the roots. How are you proposing to kill the roots once you have chopped the hedge down?
  • ibb460ibb460 Posts: 5
    I'm not sure what herbicide the gardener said he'd use, although he did say that a second treatment could be applied if any new shoots appear.  Do you have any recommendations?
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 26,104
    If you're going to do the job, I'd say , put in some time and effort and do it properly.
    The privet will have sucked most of the goodness from the soil and even if the roots are dead, they're still there, stopping the roots of the new hedge anchoring down into the ground and finding water and nutrients. 
    Remove the old roots, add organic matter to the soil and give your new hedge the best possible start. 
    " If you fail to prepare: you should prepare to fail"
    Devon.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 33,290
    I would do as @Hostafan1 says. It's only a very small run of hedge, and privet isn't usually difficult to dig out, even if they are close together.
    Wait until you've had sufficient rain so that the ground is damp. That makes it easier. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • KT53KT53 Posts: 4,390
    That's a comparatively short hedge so it makes sense to remove all the roots as it will make a better job in the long term.  Although more expensive it shouldn't be ridiculously so.
  • robairdmacraignilrobairdmacraignil Posts: 182
    edited 17 September
    ibb460 said:
    I'm not sure what herbicide the gardener said he'd use, although he did say that a second treatment could be applied if any new shoots appear.  Do you have any recommendations?

    I don't like herbicide so I would go with the digging the roots out option. Once the privet is trimmed back leaving a piece of the stem to help pull the roots out (using a fork to dig them up as well) should make the job easier. 5metres of hedge does not sound like a very large amount of privet to rip up this way.

    When I replaced a hedge for someone before they got a mechanical digger to dig up the old hedge first but they left a trench open for planting and if I was there when it was dug out I would have got them to back fill the trench again once the roots of the old hedge where out, as it was a lot of extra work to do this manually on a 200metre hedge.

  • ibb460ibb460 Posts: 5
    Thanks to all for the helpful replies. I think I'll dig up the roots as this will both clear the way for easier replanting and allow soil enrichment (soil is quite sandy). I underestimated the length of the hedge, it's nearer 10m, but still not a huge job. Final question: when should I dig up hedge and plant new? Now (by mid-November say) or next Spring? I haven't decided on replacement plant but I like the Cotoneaster varieties. I live in NE Scotland: sunnier / drier than the West coast, but a bit colder. 
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 33,290
    Any Cotoneaster will be fine in terms of hardiness. They're pretty much indestructible. Some make better hedges than others though.   :)
    If you can get it now, you can order, and get, bare root hedging in. Take a look at some of the hedging sites - I've used Hopes Grove Nursery several times. You'll get lots of info there.   :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • ibb460ibb460 Posts: 5
    Thanks Fairygirl, sounds good :)
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 33,290
    No probs. The biggest problem just now is that many places are short of stock [of all sorts of plants] , but it depends on what you're buying.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


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