Forum home Tools and techniques

Newly planted deciduous hedge pruning?

Wonder if anyone can help with advice on pruning a newly planted Hornbeam.  

From internet research I believe I should be cutting side shoots back by about a third but leaving the leader to grow until it reaches the desired height and cut back in later years.    But have seen some advice saying both sides and top should be cut back now?  

If anyone has any experience of what worked for them I'd love to hear and learn from that. 

I'm assuming what works for Beech or similar would also work for Hornbeam. 



  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,860
    Any time I've planted hornbeam, I've always bought suitable sized plants [bare root around three feet] so they didn't need any special attention - they just grew, and I'd simply maintain them in the following years in the standard way any hedge would be trimmed, ie top and sides. I've never gone round cutting back side shoots and leaving the leader. 
    I would only cut back if they were large - ie around four feet or bigger, but I would never buy larger plants, so that would be irrelevant for me.  :)

    Perhaps in certain climactic conditions, people might approach it differently, but the advantage of hornbeam over beech is that it doesn't mind very wet ground, which is why I prefer it to beech. It suits our conditions here. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Thanks Fairy Girl your advice is always appreciated.    They are about 3 foot tall, but the desirable height is around 5'.    So you would just leave them in the first year and then following years do an overall top and sides trim back, but that's based on them being the right height in the first place.   From some of what I've read it's okay to trim the leader at any time (even if not at the desirable height) as they will produce a new leader and that should in any event encourage bushyness.    Hope I've understood all that correctly. 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,860
    I don't think it'll matter too much which method you go for as long as they have a decent enough base and growing conditions. The prep for any plant, but especially hedging, is always a good idea, as it means they get as good a chance as possible to thrive  :)
    I've mainly done what you described - 3 feet [ish] specimens, and a general, overall light trim each year once established [which would include the leader], and then the usual sort of trimming once they're the size required. That depends on how well they establish and grow, which is always difficult to judge, but they grow quite readily after a couple of years. Mine were also kept at around the five foot mark when well established. 
    I put a hedge in, in the garden round the corner from here [my former home] and it grew really well. The section which was under a mature Maple and a lime tree took longer, as you'd expect, but it all filled out after a few years, and became a lovely uniform hedge. I just left that slower section to grow at it's own pace, and kept the quicker growing part trimmed back more so that it all looked similar. 
    I never had to worry about watering after it was planted, but not everyone has the luxury of that regular rainfall we get here so that's the main thing to remember once you get to warmer/drier spells. Mulching is always useful before you get to that stage, to try and help retain moisture. I used bark, which I often do for new hedging of any kind, but any organic matter will do the job    :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
Sign In or Register to comment.