What are root balls?

20 October 2021

Although there are a variety of different root types to choose from when purchasing hedging plants, some people, especially those who may be new to the garden, can find it hard to understand the differences. This blog is here to explain everything you need to know about root ball plants. 

So, let’s begin with what root ball hedging plants actually are. These plants are field grown over a prolonged period of time (anything from 1 to 14 years!) before being removed from the ground using a machine that encloses around both the root system and a surrounding mass of soil. This is then contained and delivered within a hessian sack, creating the root ball. This root type is only available between November – April, as lifting and planting is only possible when the roots are dormant.
The only exception to this is Box hedging plants, which are available as root balls year round, as the root system of Box is known for being especially strong and stable.


Choosing hedge plants with this root type has many advantages and where better to start than with the first thing on everyone’s mind – the cost. If we compare root balls to pot grown and cell grown plants, they are often a more cost effective option as they have a lower growing cost and can be delivered as they are, without the need for a pot or any other packaging materials.
As root balls are only lifted from the ground during the dormant season (when there is as little impact on the root system as possible), root ball hedging plants have a high success rate when established. And, there is no need to worry about planting at the right time of the year as root balls are only available between November and April, which, coincidentally is the optimum time to plant them!

As root balls are field grown, usually over several years, they are a great choice when looking for a large plant that will provide a bushy, healthy hedge.


This root type should be planted as soon as possible after delivery; however, if the ground is frozen or your garden has experienced heavy rainfall resulting in water-logged soil, it is best to wait a few days until the planting conditions have improved. To store your root ball plants, simply ensure that the root system remains moist and the root mass is safeguarded from any harsh weather in a sheltered area, covered with horticultural fleece or any other protective material.
The hessian sack that protects the root system during lifting and moving should be left on during planting. It continues to protect the plant and hold the roots together and, as it is biodegradable, it will eventually disintegrate, allowing the roots to branch out into their new environment.


After planting root balls, as with any newly planted hedge, the key is to water in well. As root balls are often tall, developed plants they need to establish quickly in order to be able to absorb the water and nutrients needed to sustain the root system and foliage.

There are dozens of hedging species available in this root type which means you can plant a new hedge easily and cost effectively!

Popular root ball hedge plants