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The first step to planting success is preparing the ground where your plants will take root. It is vital that you thoroughly weed the surrounding area, approximately 30cm each side of the proposed hedge line, to protect your new plants. You need to keep this area weed-free and grass free for at least the first 12 months whilst your hedge is establishing.
if you are using Mypex fabric or irrigation, lay it in place at this stage.
Next, you should dig a trench or series of holes (in the Mypex if using) for your plants. The trench/holes should be as deep as the root of your plant and roughly twice the width. It is important to use a fork to loosen the soil inside the trench (bottom and sides) to aid drainage and root development.
The secret to a successful hedge is to enrich the soil with an organic matter, digging some well-rotted manure or compost into the soil is a great way to improve nutrient levels. We also highly recommend the use of RootGrow as it aids in water and nutrient retention and dramatically improves the success rate and vitality. You can also use Bonemeal, a slow-releasing fertiliser. RootGrow should come into contact with the roots - Bonemeal should not (ie mix it thoroughly through the soil in the hole.
Once you have prepared the soil, you need to place your plants the correct distance apart, this can be done with a ruler or bamboo cane and string. Your planting distances will be defined by the number of plants you have ordered, the length of the area and whether or not you choose to double stagger your plants, or plant in a single row. (See our Planting Density advice guide.)
The most vital part of planting is ensuring your new plants receive ample water. Before planting (and before applying Rootgrow), drench each plant and half fill each hole with water and let it drain away.
Place the plants into the holes and check that the soil meets the same height as the old soil mark on the plant - this can be done with a straight stick laid across the surface of the ground to make sure you don't plant too deep (or too shallow).
Back-fill and then firm the soil in around the plants to ensure there are no air pockets for frost to creep in to.
Again, water each plant thoroughly. This watering helps take soil particles into all the air gaps and bring the soil into contact with all the fine feeding roots.
If you know there is a rabbit problem in the area, please consider rabbit guards which can save heartache and can help nurture small plants by creating a shelter like a tiny plastic greenhouse. You will also need a bamboo cane to hold the rabbit guard upright. Rabbit guards can only be used on small cell grown and bare root plants - other plants are too bulky to fit inside.
There is an alternative planting method for bare root plants which is much quicker/easier but does not always give the same results - consider it if you have a very long stretch of hedging to plant. it's called notch planting and you simply put a spade into the soil, push it away from you with your foot to create a notch shaped gap behind the spade, drop the bare root plant into the gap, release the space and firm in. Even if you cut corners and use this method to plant, please don't cut corners on the watering! You still need to plant into weed/grass free soil.
Hedge Planting needn't be complex; watch our 2 minute videos or use our simple 10 step guide and take a look at our Root Type Specific Instructions below to arm yourself with all of the knowledge you need to plant a successful hedge.
Root Type Specific Instructions – (Extra points to remember)
Root Balls and Bare Root Hedging
For Root Ball and Bare Root Hedging Plants, it is best to avoid planting when there has been heavy rainfall as the soil will be too compacted for new roots to establish. Also, do not plant in very frosty/windy weather as this will affect the roots whilst they are exposed to the air.
Root Balls and Bare Roots should be planted as soon as possible however it is fine to keep them for a few days if needed. Root Balls should be kept moist and stored in a sheltered area, not a greenhouse. Bare Roots should be thoroughly drenched, then once the water has drained off, stored in a sheltered space, again, not a greenhouse. If you need to store your Bare Root hedging for a longer period of time then you can use a soft patch of ground, such as a vegetable patch to plunge the roots into (called "heeling in"). Temporarily planted in a bundle at a 45 degree angle so that they don't take root permanently, your Bare Roots will be protected from frost and can be planted into their final position any time before the spring.
Key Points to remember when planting Root Balls:
Do not remove the mesh around the roots, it is there to protect it and will rot away over time. Simply loosen the string around the stem before planting.
If you are undecided about purchasing RootGrow, it is important to understand the role it plays in the success of Root Ball hedging. It is most beneficial to Root Balls as they are large plants with a large amount of evergreen foliage to sustain so they need to establish really quickly and effectively. It is particularly important to use RootGrow on taller root balls and late season (spring) planting.
Key Points to remember when planting Bare Roots:
Using your RootGrow create a paste, following the instructions, and dip the roots into the paste. Allow them to drain off slightly before planting.
Once planted, Bare Roots require more water than most, we recommend thoroughly drenching at the time of planting and then keeping well watering in spring/summer.
If there are frosty days after you have planted, check the hedge to make sure the frost hasn't opened up gaps in the soil - just firm in again.
Pot Grown Hedging
Key Points to remember when planting Pot Grown Plants:
Pot Grown plants can be kept for several weeks before planting if needed. Just remember to keep them well watered, once a day during dry spells. If potted plants begin to look tired it is a sign that they are running out of nutrients within the pot and need planting out.
Very gently tease the roots before planting.
As with other hedging root types, we'd recommend using RootGrow as well as mixing in Bonemeal with the soil when planting, as shown in the video near the top of this page. This is particularly essential when planting larger pot grown hedging, as this will dramatically reduce the failure rate of your hedge plants.