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Preparation for Hawthorn Hedge

Hi to all, 

Starting to prep the ground for a new Hawthorn hedge. Not really sure if this is the right place in the forum, but as it is mostly with wildlife in mind I put it here.

The hedge is going to be 100% hawthorn, I've read a mixed hedge may be better, but I've had the vision of a pure white band of hawthorn flowers across the end of the garden in my mind since I moved here over 12 years ago. I might find some room for mixed (some holly and hazel etc in with the hawthorn) at the front of the house later though.

I've been researching how to prep the ground and have found conflicting advice. We are on heavy Essex clay and hawthorn grows happily enough in hedgerows all around.

Some sources say double dig and put in muck. Some say don't put in muck because if it goes under the roots it stops the roots pushing down and looking for nutrients, weakening the hedge. Some sources say most soils don't need any improvement. Some advise against mulching as it may rot the stems.

It is heavy going already getting out all the old roots and stuff from the area. So I don't want to do work that is not of benefit, but also I don't want to cut corners if it is going to affect the future vigor of the hedge.

Help and advice appreciated.image



  • Dave MorganDave Morgan Posts: 3,123

    If it's growing happily all around you Gemma, then I'd just plant without improving the soil. Clay is rich in nutrients so food won't be a problem. Drainage is an issue on clay, but Hawthorn is a really tough shrub and can cope with all sorts of weather, even occasional flooding that's why farmers use it. If it's heavy going clearing then double digging will be hell. Just plant them up.

  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286

    Thanks Dave, I think you just made my Christmas image I'll go with just getting out as many of the old roots and stumps as possible, got most of the remaining big ones out today, then get them in. 

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,875

    I agree with Dave, bung 'em inimage


  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,148

    I'll 'third' that Gemma image

    Although I have to say - the better the ground is round the whips, the less work it is afterwards when you're maintaining it. My blackthorn hedge borders the front grass so I had to remove old compacted turf to put it in. I mulched it with bark after planting last year which has made a huge difference. Very little weeding to do and both hedge and grass are growing well. 

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286

    Ta nutcutlet and Fairygirl image I'm planning to use some weed control fabric (mainly because I have enough lying around already) to make life a bit easier. When I read from the supplier it had to be kept weed free for two years didn't fancy it much as my current weeding duties seem plenty already.image 


    Found a vid on youtube that suggested this method here:


  • hawthorn is hardy stuff, plant it and mulch around it (you want to reduce completion for light, water and nutrients)

    I wouldn't use weed control fabric under the mulch, unless its the biodegradable stuff, I tend to use double layered corrugated cardboard as it controls for over a year and rots away once its jobs done

    don't plant in one straight line either, if you zig zag plant about 30cm apart is perfect for getting a good a thick hedge faster and it also makes it easier to lay in 20 years or so! image 

  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286

    I wonder if I'll still be hear in 2035 to lay it treehugger image Was definitely going to go for a double row so it is nice and thick for wildlife. I've been looking at  local courses on hedge laying, one of those things I just have to have a go at. image

  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286

    Had a bit of luck with the hedge, went out to look at the whole area this morning and one end was very wet and didn't look good to plant anything in. We had though a 'suspicious' ramp grow in front of our compost heap down the years.

    As it is right next to where the hedge is going thought I would level it out and see what it was made of. Lovely dark friable soil?? No such thing exists in most my garden yet!. Then I thought about it, one of the jobs my son always loved was taking the wheelbarrow up to the compost heap. When he was little he couldn't really get it on top, so he would often empty the contents of the barrow short of the heap. Down the years it has made some lovely soil, just what I need to cover that sticky clay before putting in the hedge. image

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,148

    Result Gemma image

    They come in useful now and again don't they? image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286

    He has his uses for sure Fairygirl image Quite the strapping lad these days. It did bring back so many memories though of him going up to the heap barely able to see over the wheelbarrow. He always was willing to help out in the garden and when he's not busy with his own life still does. image

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