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Hedging Plants


Plant your hedging as soon as possible after receipt. Should weather conditions be adverse (i.e. if the ground is frozen or too wet to plant), then the plants should be temporarily heeled in until conditions improve. Dig a hole or shallow trench, lay the plants at an oblique angle and cover the roots loosely with sufficient soil or compost so that no roots are exposed to the air.
Improve the soil structure by thorough digging before planting and if possible mix well rotted manure or compost into the top soil.
Soak the roots in water for 1-2 hours, then plant your hedging at the recommended spacings with the roots well spread out to the depth indicated by the soil mark just above the roots on the main stem, or up to 1cm (½in) deeper. Apply rootgrow™ mycorrhizal fungi directly to the roots before planting - this will help the plants to establish quickly. Tread firmly and water-in thoroughly.

Hedge Plant Spacing

As a general rule for a single row allow 2-3 plants per metre, for a double row 3-5 plants per metre (planted in herring-bone fashion).  For more precise planting distances refer to the specific variety information on our website.
A double row is only really needed if ultimately the hedge is designed to keep out cattle/horses, or to provide shelter from particularly vicious winds.  They end up wider, taking more space from the garden, and are more difficult to keep under control.


Keep the soil around the plants moist throughout the first growing season. In later years only water during prolonged dry spells, drenching thoroughly no more than once a week.

Weeding & Mulching

Weed control with new hedging is crucial. Keep the area around the plants free of weeds, particularly during the first year. An annual mulch of well rotted compost will greatly improve moisture retention and soil structure, and help suppress unwanted weeds.


To create a dense hedge, bushy from the ground up, the plants must be cut back hard to about 30-45cm (1ft-18in) above ground when they are planted. This encourages vigorous new growths from the base and helps establishment by initially reducing both wind rock and the amount of new foliage while the new roots are trying to grow.
Thereafter trim twice a year, in mid summer and late winter, or more often to create a neater more formal appearance, using either garden shears, a hedge-trimmer or secateurs if you want to avoid tatty partially cut foliage on larger leaved evergreens such as cherry laurel. In the early years remove about half the new growth each time, encouraging lots of new shoots to thicken the hedge as it increases in height. Once it has reached the desired height and spread remove almost all the new growth at each trim.
Vigorous spring-flowering shrubs such as Philadelphus (Mock Orange) should be cut back hard immediately the blossom finishes, usually in July. Remove most of the previous year’s growth, at least 75%. This will encourage lots of new growths that will set blossom buds later in summer to bloom the following spring. It will also prevent them becoming leggy as they age.
Should any of your hedging plants be let go, i.e. not trimmed for several years, they can be restored to good order by being cut back hard in late winter, to within 45cm (18in) of the ground if necessary, to rejuvenate them. This is not our recommended regular method of pruning and will almost certainly result in the loss of the next crop of flowers and/or fruits but they should all survive it.


Most garden soils contain adequate nutrients for a typical hedge. Too much feeding encourages excessive growth which will require more trimming and is usually more prone to pests and diseases.

Pests & Diseases

Rabbits can be a problem during establishment, gnawing away the bark around the stems near the base in winter.  If in doubt fit rabbit guards. If cattle and/or horses have access to the hedge soon after planting they will destroy it unless it is securely fenced off - about 6ft away.
Whitefly and woolly aphid (beech) are common pests, but not normally serious enough to warrant treatment.

Further Information

Useful information can be found on the RHS website.