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Limbing up

I planted some small trees between laurels when I planted my hedge a while back. The hedge is slowly but surely coming on and I hope that I will end up with an 8 to 10ft high hedge and the trunks of the trees will be within the hedge, standing proud a little and then the crown above the hedge. 

I don’t really want the crown starting within the hedge as when it comes to hedge trimming, cutting round a few trunks is one thing but cutting round a whole series of branches coming out will be hard work. 

So, as the hedge grows, should I be encouraging tall growth by taking out lower branches, or will the trees naturally grow taller as they are shaded out?

I have a variety of trees in the hedge - rowan, crab apples, bird cherry, ornamental cherry, hawthorn etc. All have the potential to grow to a height above that of the eventual hedge height according to their labels.



  • I'm not sure you'll be able to remove the lower branches on the trees in the first two photos as there is no defined leader, the branches break from relatively low down the trunk forming the crown. 

    You have a greater chance of achieving what you want with the third tree. Hoping to create a clear stem with the crown above the planned height of the hedge (8-10ft) for each of your trees presents a challenge as the species you have chosen would naturally branch and establish their crowns at a height lower than the hedge.

    Hopefully, someone will be along with a suggestion that may help. I'm not trying to be negative, I just can't think of a solution.
  • I see what you are saying with the leaders although I think with the hawthorn, first pic, there are 2 contenders. As the plant grows, does it sort of stretch out? Or does everything stay where it is in relation to the ground?
  • They will stretch out a bit as they grow.  
    AB Still learning

  • Most of the trees in my hedge, I see have been cut at the top and have no central leader, now I look at them. So if I want them taller, I guess it’s a case of re-establishing a leader but that would mean pruning out a load of branches which the original pruning selected for. D’oh!
    Is this re-establishment of a central leader going to put too much stress on the tree? For example, in the first picture above that would mean taking out half of the crown and in the second picture above, two thirds would be lost.

  • LTobyLToby Posts: 224
    These small trees will grow robustly. Personally, I will remove the small lower twigs that are stretching with the growing hedge. In that way, encouraging the ones that are higher will grow taller. Continue to train the tree as the branches will come along to create a crown above the hedges. 
    Aberdeenshire, Scotland
  • Thanks LToby so no need to drastically prune for central leaders then in your opinion. That’s good to hear!
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