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Neglected hawthorne hedge - worth saving?

We have just bought a house with an old, neglected hawthorne hedge. After digging out two 6 yard skips full of ivy, deadwood and rubble, we are left with a rather sorry looking hedge.

As you can see from the pictures, it looks reasonable from the front (street). However, the pictures taken of the back (garden view) show how 'gappy' and mis-shapen it has become.

It seems to have been planted against an old boundary wall which has forced it to slant outwards. We are trying to dig out the remaining foundations of the wall and remove old tree stumps.

My questions;

a) is it possible to encourage the hedge to grow more upright?

b) how do we prune it? stems/branches are very twisted (see pics)

c) can it recover? or are we best to dig it up and plant whips?

Thanks for your help.

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  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 10,511

    You could try 'laying' it, which is what farmers do to make hedges livestock-proof.  This will also encourage vigorous new growth:

    You could perhaps try that and also plant some whips in the gaps to fill it out until nature takes its course.  It might be worth looking for a local hedge laying expert though as I suspect the way they are leaning will make laying it a bit tricky.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Spot on, just what immediately came to mind, laying it which will encourage new growth from low on the stools and along the laid 'pleachers'. Good fun to do for that short stretch and very satisfying.


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