We planted a hawthorne hedge bought from a local garden centre that had
been recommended to us about 3 years ago.
We explained where we were planting it, what for etc and they advised us
just to plant it and leave it be. Which we did. Having now done some
independent research it has become clear that there should have been
much more to it than this (i.e. cutting back to half size at planting,
spraying the ground around it before planting, clipping back after 1
year and possibly using spirals etc etc).
The hedge has grown a little bit in some places and quite a lot in
others but I fear we may have a disaster on our hands as it has never
been clipped back and has an enormous amount of weeds around it which
are no doubt stifiling its growth.
I would really appreciate some advice on how we could try to rescue the
hedge. Especially if, when and how we should clip it back and also if
there is anything we can do at this stage/time of year to combat the
weeds. The good news is all the plants have taken but the bad news is
that it seems we have managed it very poorly from the start through lack
of advice and being novice gardeners/lack of research on our part.
It is planted near a lot of very old well established hawthorn hedges so
we know that the soil etc it is in should be fine but obviously there
was a lot we should have done from the outset that hasn't been done.
Is there any hope!!!??
I'm not sure what spirals are (tree wrap, perhaps?), but here's what I'd do:
1) trim the hedge carefully (not just whack it into a geometric shape, but
look at what you might be able to do to get the neighboring plants to
fill in for an undersized one if the gappiness continues.)
2) Figure out what weeds you have and what you'll have to do to get rid of
them,then do so. I'd try to use a light-occlusive mulch myself, but some
weeds are nasty enough that I'd break out a selectively applied herbicide just
for them. If you're using light-occlusive mulch (my favorite is corrugated
cardboard with something decorative over the top), then cut the weeds down to
ground level before applying the mulch. Watch for weed regrowth, and knock it
back ASAP -- a weekly tour of the planting with hoe in hand would be a good
3) If your plants have bare legs and they shouldn't, pull the lower branches
out and peg them down to improve the shape of the bottom of the hedge.
You may also want to propagate some clippings in case you need to fill in.
I'm in the US, so hesitate to give advice about when and how hard to prune,
but I know there are excellent books on formal hedges and on pruning available
in the UK. Study the pruning manuals carefully as to where and how
to cut to persuade the plant to grow in the shape you are hoping for.
Never remove more than 30% of the plant's top growth in a year, unless you're
willing to accept that the plant may die -- I usually go for no more than
20% pruning as a rule of thumb.
In general, removing the tips of branches encourages dormant buds to sprout
lower on the plant, making the plant "bushier". Some species will respond
to pruning in this manner by new growth only closest to the pruning site,
while others will develop new branches much farther down. Without knowing
the species in your hedge, I can't guess.
Personally, I am not a fan of nicely trimmed, single species hedges. They're
a lot of work, they're not much use for wildlife habitat, and one of the plants
in the hedge (inevitably!) doesn't grow as well, or grows too well, and
it looks gap-toothed. On the other hand, you can mix together several
different species in a meandered border and even if you lose a few or you
don't do anything to them for several years, it'll still look fine.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.