As with all planting preparation is the key.
Root balled plants and bare root plants need to planted within a few days of delivery. It is important to keep plants well watered prior to planting as well as after planting. With bare root plant they need to be kept in a sheltered space to protect them from winds to stop them drying out. Bare roots can be ‘heeled in’ temporarily to keep them longer prior to planting – this is a simple process where the plant can be put into a hole and pressed down with the heel – making sure to keep them well watered; it is essential that the plant are moved to them permanent position before the dormancy period (the winter months) is over.
The ground needs preparing by removing weeds from the area to ensure that they do not deprive water and nutrients from the new plants. A volume of ground approximately twice the width and depth of the roots should be forked over ensuring compacted soil is loosened to allow the roots a chance to grow. Soil should be enriched with an organic matter, feed or root grow products. The size of hole to dig for your plants depends on whether it is a bare root, root balled or potted plant:
- Making sure the ground is prepared beforehand bare root plants can be planted by digging a large spade into the ground and pushing the soil to one side and popping the plant into the hole and then pull out the spade and heel in the soil around the plant. For a dense planting scheme of bare root plants it is quicker to dig out a trench the length of the hedge and twice the width of the root structure and position the plants in the trench and fill with soil and heel in.
- For root balled plants the trench method described above is the best option.
- For potted plants you can either use the trench method as described above with the trench twice the width of the pots or dig separate holes where an area twice the size of the pot is forked over to loosen the soil and aid root growth.
- Plants should be planted at the same depth that they were previously – this is easy to tell for potted plants – for root balled and bare root plants you should be able to see a change in colour in the plants’ stem indicating the planted level. Leave root balled plants in their bags as they are biodegradable and will break down naturally in the soil.
Infill and firm down the soil around the plants; this is an important task to eliminate air pockets within the soil which can lead to frost damage. Water the plants in with plenty of water and then cover the soil with mulch which will help retain moisture and control weed growth.
It is sometimes advisable for hedges that form a garden boundary to provide a wire fencing to try and stop people walking through it and to provide a supporting structure. The simplest of these is a wooden post fence with stainless steel wire in between – this can then be removed once the hedge has established.
One of the essential tasks after planting a bare root hedge is the pruning. Although this may sound harsh it is for the good of the hedge and aids in producing a thick hedge with few gaps. The trick is to prune the plant by approximately half the height; this encourages the plant to produce more shoots and therefore produce a bushier plant. If left un-pruned then the plant will grow upright without ‘knitting together’ as quickly. This therefore means when buying plants you should ideally buy a height of plant taller than what height you would like the hedge to start at.