Plant a Formal Hedge

A tidy, clipped hedge is the standard border for formal gardens. Here's how to get one started.

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Perfect Hedge DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Yew, hornbeam and beech make excellent closely-clipped hedges and you can reduce the cost by buying young bare-rooted plants from late winter to early spring and growing them yourself.

When to Start: late fall to early spring
At Its Best: all year round
Time to Complete: 4 hours or more depending on hedge size

Using Pot-Grown Plants:

When to Start: any time; early autumn or spring is best
At Its Best: all year (evergreen), spring to autumn (deciduous)

Materials Needed:

  • young bare-root hedging plants (yew shown here)
  • composted organic matter
  • spade
  • garden fork
  • stakes
  • garden string
  • watering can or hose
  • all-purpose granular fertilizer
  • pot-grown holly plants (Ilex aquifolium)

Prepare the Site

Six weeks before planting, remove all weeds from the site and dig a trench the length of the hedge and 3 feet wide. Fork in organic matter, and refill the trench. Set out a line to mark the edge of the hedge.

Prepare Site for HedgeEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Mark Planting Intervals

Dig a trench twice as wide and as deep as the plants' root balls. Using a ruler or guide, lay stakes at 18–24 inch intervals along the string line to mark the planting distances.

Lay Stakes Along String LineEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Check Planting Depths

Check that the plants will be at the same depth as they were in the field when planted — you'll see the soil line just above the roots. Place one plant by each stake and backfill around the roots with soil, removing any air gaps with your fingers.

Planting a HedgeEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited
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Excerpted from How to Grow Practically Everything

© 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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