Hedging patience

I'm in a bit of bind, really one of indecision.  The garden backs on to to small woodlands (ash, sycamore, hawthorn, privet, dogwoods, blackthorn, brambles etc), with occasional footfall.  The boundary had consisted of brambles, which have done their job, but I'm wanting to replace with a hedge. 

The soil is very poor in the location (chalk downland), and in an exposed west facing spot.

I'm looking at about 8 metres length and 1.5m high, 0.5m trench, the south end already is in partial shade (ash and hawthorn). 

I'm after mostly evergreen interest, and flowers, and to blur the boundary of the woodland. I've assembled basic post and rail fencing.

Originally I was going to just use laurel and keep it to about 2m high.  It would look nice, but I'm now thinking I'm not being that imaginative, and not really that patient.

A mix might prove more interesting.  I considered native hedging, but there's plenty of that, and actually it's about the most exposed sunny spot in the garden and I should take advantage of it.

So here are my thoughts on what to put there:

Rosa Rugosa - in the spirit of the brambles.  But not sure if it's suitable for the shadier end.

Cotoneaster (simonsii) or varient.  Seems this is not fussy about chalk, and I can happily neglect.

Prunus cerasifera 'Myrobalan'.  This looks like a nice option, but not sure how long it would take to grow.

Or perhaps I could mix the above with Laurel at the shady end.  It would be nice to have a tree or taller upright of interest in there somewhere.  I don't really want to spend much money on the boundary, more a case of shove something there, and leave it.

I could plant laurel at the back, and plant something more interesting in front, but I'm slightly worried about the laurels interfering with adjacent plants, or competing for minimal amount of water that there is.  I wouldn't mind planting a cooking apple about a metre away from the boundary.

I'm thinking aloud really, not really a proper question in there, but any thoughts or comments appreciated. 




  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,088

    Be wary of laurel, it get big without  attention and looks naff for some time after it's been trimmed.

    Beech is happy on chalk. The beech woods where I was brought up are on very chalky soil. Not evergreen but keeps the brown leaves through winter. It would look more appropriate in front of woodland than laurel.

    If you really want evergreen, yew or holly are more at home with English woodland

  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,753

    Don't plant laurel.  This is what happens if you forget to prune it:


    ...and you need to cut carefully to avoid cutting leaves which will then turn brown and look horrible.

    Beech or hornbeam (which looks similar but grows faster) would be ideal if you don't want hawthorn.  I suspect young beech trees would be OK in shady conditions (since their parents cast dense shade) but you might want to check that.

  • WaysideWayside Posts: 729

    I love the huge hedges trees! Looks nice against the rusty red.  Would be a bit anti-social if neighbouring other gardens.

    But when they are that big, they are that much harder to manage.

    I don't mind cutting the laurel and keeping on top of it, to about 2m.  Where it is situated it's easy to get behind and manage.  But I don't want it to look too out of place with the rest of the woodland.

    I originally planned to put beech there.  Typically I bought bare roots, but didn't get them in on time, I've placed them in another hedge.  Perhaps I'll go full circle.  If I let one grow into a tree at a later point, it would look lovely.  Good point about them coping with some shade.

    What has struck me from looking around at hedge suppliers, is that they frequently don't include beech in their mixes.  Is it because they out compete other whips, or can potentially become too large or something else?  The only thing that puts me off is I have another neighbour with a beech hedge, and I fancied something different.

    Has anyone used the cherry plum?  It would look fine with the hawthorn and blackthorn close by, and I like the idea of an edible hedge.

    I'm now thinking, acer campestre (field maple), fagus (beech), viburnum opulus (guelder rose), rosa rugosa (or dog rose), and Crataegus (hawthorn)!

    Thanks for talking me out of the laurel.  I can always put some in pots for temporary privacy.

    If I put one laurel in the hedge row, would it play fair with others?  Would it work with the cherry plum, being another prunus? 

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,088

    The rose and the viburnum are lovely in an informal native hedge but they're not really hedging plants. Maybe field maple the same, I haven't seen that hedged on its own.

    Hawthorn very good for wildlife and clips well.

    I think cherry plum suckers, mine seems to but haven't checked properly, they may be seedlings. But they look like suckersimage

    I hate laurel

    Hornbeam doesn't do well exposed to strong winds in my experience but may do better if the soil is better than mine

  • RedwingRedwing Posts: 875

    In your situation with a chalky soil I would go for wild privet.  It is native on chalk and will grow well.  You could mix it with whatever else you like.  It is evergreen, which you said you wanted.  It can be cut back as much or as little as you like.  You could add roses for interest or honeysuckle or a tree or two.  Privet, in my view, is hugely under appreciated; it is loved by certain moths and provides berries too.  Also at this time of year you can buy bare rooted plants and as it is late in the season there  are bargains around on privet.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,088

    I have wild privet in a hedge and on its own. I like it but its very floppy and straggly. I can't see it as a hedge on its own.

  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,753

    Any floppy, straggly hedge can be densified (?) by hard pruning. Hack it down as low as you like - privet's pretty well impossible to kill - and it'll look awful for a year and then grow back thicker.  Keep it cut and it'll keep getting thicker.  

    Or maybe wild privet is less resilient?

  • WaysideWayside Posts: 729

    Privet in a hedge you say?  Whatever next!

    I have lots of privet.  And dare I say it, I actually have a soft spot for it.  The Mrs, hates it.  I like privet as a shrub tree. But then again I like a lot of hedge plants outside the hedge!

    You are right, I forgot to mention privet, there is loads of privet, and it does very well here.  I cut it, I throw it down; it roots easily!

    If you have a sexy privet, something alternative to wild privet.  I might just consider sneaking some in.

    I thought Hornbeam was recommended on clay, and beech on chalk?  Have I got that right.  Or is it beech on dry and Hornbeam on wet?  Please correct me. 

    I could do with rejuvenating a floppy privet, I hacked it back last year, but probably not enough.  How bold should I be?


  • WaysideWayside Posts: 729

    Oh I have hawthorn and field maple in hedgerows, along with privet...  and the field maple is the star.  It's gorgeous.  One of the trees I want for more.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,088

    Hedging privet isn't wild privet

    however wild it looksimage

    as bold as you like. Ours was getting tangled in the phone wire an we took it back to 4ft. I would have cut it back to the ankles to get more growth at the base but we would have be open to the road and all the rubbish that people throw out of cars

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