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Hedging Guides

Find The Right Hedging For You

Knowing which type of hedging you need for the project or space you are working on can be a bit overwhelming. Planting hedging is a very easy job, whether it’s pot grown, bare root, cell grown or root balled, it’s the same principles; good ground preparation, plenty of space for each root, elimination of air pockets and plenty of water not just when the plants are going into the ground, but in the weeks following planting until the plants are fully established and able to fend for themselves.

Here we have explained the different root types we supply. If you need any further information please do not hesitate to contact us on

or email theteam@impactplants.co.uk where a knowledgeable member of the team will happily talk through planting instructions and advise on species that would suit your needs.

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Bare root hedging is literally a stem of varying height with a good root system underneath. Field grown and lifted in the winter months when the plants are dormant, bare root hedging which is often deciduous and therefore without foliage at this time, can look a little uninspiring on arrival. However, this type of hedging offers a real value for money option for hedge planting and will thrive when the spring comes.

Bare root plants are only supplied when they are completely dormant, from early/mid-November and most sizes are available until mid-late May (exact dates depend on the weather). Plants used at the end of the season are put into cold store perfect conditions when they are deeply dormant in mid-Winter, to allow the extension of the season without detriment to the success rate, providing they are planted quickly on arrival and, as with all new hedging, kept well watered. Box bare root is the exception – it can be lifted in mid October through to April.

Bare roots have the tremendous benefit of being very low cost. They are much cheaper to grow because they are planted only once and can then be left in the fields for several years rather than re-potting each year. They are also cheaper to deliver because we do not have to pay for the weight of the soil. There is though a certain failure rate – generally about 10% – (slightly more for Beech and Purple Beech) although you can improve the success rate to virtually 100% by planting with Rootgrow, and it’s worth bearing in mind that smaller plants are easier to establish.

Preparation and Planting Guide - Bare Root Plants

We've outlined below the ideal way to prepare the site and plant a new hedge (for those with time and energy!), but we hope these notes will still be helpful to those with less time or energy - hedging plants are generally very robust and as long as they get water and the ground around them is kept free of weeds, most hedges will do well.

Preparation of the site

Even if you are planting small plants, you need to prepare a substantial cleared area ready for a new hedge. We recommend you dig over a trench at least 30cm (12") wide and 25cm (9") deep for small plants (plant height up to 60cm) or wider and deeper for taller plants. Make sure the soil is easily workable. It is really important to remove all perennial weeds. Make sure there is good drainage in the trench by using a garden fork on the sides and bottom to create drainage routes. This will also make it easier for the roots to penetrate the soil and take hold.

Try not to plant: 

  • if it has been raining heavily as this makes the soil compacted and too "solid" for tiny new roots to grow
  • when there is a very cold wind - or at least make sure the plants are out of their pots for the minimum time

If you need to improve the soil you can use well rotted garden compost, well rotted farmyard manure, or any general purpose compost (available everywhere). II the soil is very wet, you could add sharp sand or lime free course grit.

All the species we sell can be planted into decent soil without the need for soil conditioners but if you wish you can also add bonemeal to the soil as this promotes root growth. It is very important that the bonemeal does not come into contact with the plant roots or stems (it is a strong fertiliser and can "burn" the plants) so it should be mixed through the soil/compost Oust put a handful in the bottom of the planting hole and fork it through - please use a gardening glove at all times when handling fertilisers).

We also recommend the use of the RHS approved RootGrow product, particularly for bare roots. It gives plants a boost of the friendly fungi they use to help them find moisture and nutrients in the soil - use of RootGrow dramatically shortens the time it takes plants to establish and gives vigorous growth. Unlike bonemeal, RootGrow does need to be in direct contact with the roots.

Planting

If the weather is suitable and you have time to do it properly, then planting bare roots immediately is ideal, but do not be tempted to rush the job or do it in windy, wet or frosty weather. You can store them for a few days by soaking the roots in a bucket of water for up to 2 hours and then drain and keep in an unheated but protected position like a garage or shed (but not a greenhouse). Alternatively, you can "heel them in" by planting them in a bundle, the roots covered with loose soil which is kept moist. Plants that have been "heeled in" can be kept like that for a couple of weeks and sometimes longer (depending on the weather).

Avoid planting during frosts or on windy or very wet days. Wind can dry out bare roots before you can get them into the ground and very wet weather can lead to compaction around the roots, inhibiting initial root growth. If there is even a light wind, keep the bundle of bare roots in a sheltered place or in the packaging and just take out a few roots at a time, to minimise their exposure.

The trench needs to be slightly wider than the roots and the level judged carefully so that the soil level will come to the old soil mark on the stems. Spread the roots out carefully. If you are using canes on taller plants or to pin rabbit guards in place, take note of where to drive in the cane so that the roots will not be damaged.

Make sure the soil is firmed down well around the plant (but not compacted) so that there are no air pockets where frost could form. Water each plant really thoroughly (approx 5 litres per plant) and you could apply a bark mulch* (see note overleaf) around the base of each plant (but not touching the stem) to suppress weeds, protect from frost and retain moisture.

Root ball plants are grown naturally in a field (often for many years) and when ready for delivery, they are scooped out of the ground by a machine, which cuts a ball around the root which is then wrapped in a biodegradable hessian sack or a wire contraption (for the larger plants), both of which are left on the plant when planted and both decompose naturally. Many evergreen plants are sold as root balled, particularly large plants.

Root balled plants are only available from late October to April – the success rate (which is good but not as good as Pot Grown) is enhanced if they are re-planted into their permanent positions before Spring arrives and planted with RootGrow. Customers who order root balled plants should ensure that they can plant out within a few days of delivery. We cannot stress enough the importance of keeping large evergreens well watered and you should absolutely drench the planting hole and then drench again after planting and regularly (sometimes the winter weather helps!) throughout the whole of the first year after planting. Sometimes, root balls (particularly those over 1.5m) can defoliate or suffer from yellowing leaves when the first hot weather arrives in the first season after planting – this is just the plant being shocked by the heat and it merely needs plenty of water to help it to recover.

Planting later in the season (March/April) is riskier than planting early in the season (October/November/December) and the risk increases with the height of the plant i.e. a 2.0m plant planted in March has a higher risk than a 1.0m plant planted in March. Equally it has a higher risk than a 2.0m plant planted in November. RootGrow helps a lot but even RootGrow won’t help a plant find water if there has been no rainfall and you don’t water them sufficiently. You’d think it wouldn’t happen when people pay a lot of money for lovely plants but we know otherwise!

Preparation and Planting Guide - Root Ball Plants

We've outlined below the ideal way to prepare the site and plant a new hedge (for those with time and energy!), but we hope these notes will still be helpful to those with less time or energy - hedging plants are generally very robust and as long as they get water and the ground around them is kept free of weeds, most hedges will do well.

Preparation of the site

Even if you are planting small plants, you need to prepare a substantial cleared area ready for a new hedge. We recommend you dig over a trench at least 30cm (12") wide and 25cm (9") deep for small plants (plant height up to 60cm) or wider and deeper for taller plants. Make sure the soil is easily workable. It is really important to remove all perennial weeds. Make sure there is good drainage in the trench by using a garden fork on the sides and bottom to create drainage routes. This will also make it easier for the roots to penetrate the soil and take hold.

If you need to improve the soil you can use well rotted garden compost, well rotted farmyard manure, or any general purpose compost (available everywhere). If the soil is very wet, you could add sharp sand or lime free course grit.

All the species we sell can be planted into decent soil without the need for soil conditioners but if you wish you can also add bonemeal to the soil as this promotes root growth. It is very important that the bonemeal does not come into contact with the plant roots or stems or leaves (it is a strong fertiliser and can "burn" the plants) so it should be mixed through the soil/compost (just put a handful in the bottom of the planting hole and fork it through - please use a gardening glove at all times when handling fertilisers) and watered in well before planting.

We also recommend RootGrow - particularly for root balls. It is a fantastic organic product, recommended by the Royal Horticultural Society. It gives plants a boost of the friendly fungi they use to help them find moisture and nutrients in the soil - use of RootGrow dramatically shortens the time it takes plants to establish and gives vigorous growth. Unlike bonemeal, RootGrow does need to be in direct contact with the roots. The reason why we particularly recommend it with root balls is because the root balls are evergreens and the need to sustain foliage puts extra strain onto root ball plants during the time when they are lifted, transported and replanted - it is particularly important for root balls planted late in the season (Feb, March, April) because spring growth puts even more stress on the plant and the root needs to be established really quickly to cope with this.

Planting

Root balls can be stored for a few days (keep the root moist and store them in a sheltered garage or shed but not a greenhouse) but ideally they should be planted as soon as possible after delivery.

Try not to plant:

  • If it has been raining heavily as this makes the soil compacted and too "solid" for tiny new roots to grow
  • When there is a very cold wind - or al least make sure the plants are exposed to the wind for the minimum time

Do not remove the string mesh around the roots - it helps to keep the roots from being damaged when you are planting out and will rot away completely over time. Loosen the collar around the stem.

The trench where you are going to plant needs to be wider than the root size (ideally up to twice the width of the root ball) and about the same depth. Fork over the soil in the bottom of the trench and make fork holes in the sides so that the new fine roots can make progress in soil that is not compacted. It is essential to make sure the planting hole is very moist - use the equivalent of a whole watering can of water in each hole and let it drain before planting.

Plant so that the soil comes to the same level as the old soil mark on the plant. Make sure the soil is firmed down well around the plant (but not compacted) so that there are no air pockets where frost could form. Absolutely drench each plant and you could apply a bark mulch* (see note below) around the base of each plant (but not touching the stem) to suppress weeds, protect from frost and retain moisture.

It is essential to keep absolutely drenching root balls until they are fully established.

*Note - mulch is useful on lighter soils but can lead to problems on heavy or waterlogged soils where excess moisture is trapped below the surface resulting in root rot. Yew and Box should not be mulched as they are particularly susceptible to disease when moisture is trapped around their roots

Growing in pots requires much more input from us with watering, weeding, feeding and annual re-potting. However, they have a very high success rate because the roots remain completely protected by the pots until customers re-plant them whereas inevitably there is some root damage to bare roots and root balled plants in the process of lifting them from the fields and delivery. Pot grown plants can be left in their pots for days or even weeks before being planted into the ground, providing they are kept watered. We sell evergreens, semi-evergreens and deciduous pot grown plants and the vast majority of them are UK grown.

All our heights are quoted from the top of the pot upwards i.e. the height it will be when planted. Please make sure when you’re comparing prices on websites that you take the pot size into account and that you know for certain what height of plant you are going to receive. 

Cell grown plants are an intermediate step between small bare root and small pot grown plants. They don’t have the root development and stem bulk of plants grown in 2 Litre (or larger) pots, but on the other hand, they are inexpensive.

Preparation and Planting Guide - Cell grown and pot grown plants

We've outlined below the ideal way to prepare the site and plant a new hedge (for those with time and energy!), but we hope these notes will still be helpful to those with less time or energy - hedging plants are generally very robust and as long as they get water and the ground around them is kept free of weeds, most hedges will do well.

Preparation of the site

Even if you are planting small plants, you need to prepare a substantial cleared area ready for a new hedge. We recommend you dig over a trench at least 30cm (12") wide and 25cm (9") deep for small plants (plant height up to 60cm) or wider and deeper for taller plants. Make sure the soil is easily workable. It is really important to remove all perennial weeds. Make sure there is good drainage in the trench by using a garden fork on the sides and bottom to create drainage routes. This will also make it easier for the roots to penetrate the soil and take hold.

Try not to plant:

  • if it has been raining heavily as this makes the soil compacted and too "solid" for tiny new roots to grow
  • when there is a very cold wind - or at least make sure the plants are out of their pots for the minimum time

If you need to improve the soil you can use well rotted garden compost, well rotted farmyard manure, or any general purpose compost (available everywhere). II the soil is very wet, you could add sharp sand or lime free course grit.

All the species we sell can be planted into decent soil without the need for soil conditioners but if you wish you can also add bonemeal to the soil as this promotes root growth. It is very important that the bonemeal does not come into contact with the plant roots or stems (it is a strong fertiliser and can "burn" the plants) so it should be mixed through the soil/compost Oust put a handful in the bottom of the planting hole and fork it through - please use a gardening glove at all times when handling fertilisers).

We also recommend the use of the RHS approved RootGrow product, particularly for bare roots. It gives plants a boost of the friendly fungi they use to help them find moisture and nutrients in the soil - use of RootGrow dramatically shortens the time it takes plants to establish and gives vigorous growth. Unlike bonemeal, RootGrow does need to be in direct contact with the roots.

Pot Grown

Because the plants have been grown in pots, they can be left in their pots for a few weeks as long as you keep them well watered. Remember that plants in pots dry out much quicker than plants in the ground, so water them daily if it hasn't rained properly, and keep them in a place sheltered from wind. You can make sure you are watering enough by feeling the weight of the plant in the pot - it should feel heavy with the weight of the water.

The trench where you are going to plant needs to be wider than the root size (ideally up to twice the width of the pot). Gently tease the roots when you remove the pot. Make sure the soil is very moist, ideally using a watering can of water in each hole and allowing it to drain before planting.

Position the plant so that the soil comes to the same level as the soil in the plant pot. Make sure the soil is firmed down well {but not compacted) around the plant so that there are no air pockets where frost could form. Water each plant thoroughly after planting (again a watering can per plant) and you could apply a bark mulch* (see note below) around the base of each plant (but not touching the stem) to suppress weeds, protect from frost and retain moisture.

Cell Grown

These are planted in exactly the same way as pot grown plants but you need to make sure that the root is covered with about an inch (3cm) of soil after planting.

*Note - mulch is useful on lighter soils but can lead to problems on heavy or waterlogged soils where excess moisture is trapped below the surface resulting in root rot. Yew and Box should not be mulched as they are particularly susceptible to disease when moisture is trapped around their roots

Instant hedging is what it says on the tin, it’s hedging that’s instant! Grown in troughs, instant hedging is comparatively more mature than a pot grown plant or root ball plant of the same height. If you’re looking for show garden quality hedging, you’ve found it.

All instant trough grown pre trimmed hedging is irrigated and fertilised regularly so that it is in the best possible condition when it arrives with you. Our specialist growers use a growing medium which is light enough to make the troughs manoeuvrable but contains all the nutrients and goodness that the several plants in your trough will need. We use a varying quantity of plants in each trough depending on species as we know what will create the perfect hedge unit – this is usually 4 to 5 plants.

We use only high quality plants in our instant hedge troughs; it is this, along with our years of expertise that gives us a fantastic success rate, top quality products and great prices.

For information on Trees and Pleached Trees, please see our Tree advice section here…

If you have purchased from us and are experiencing any issues, please see our plant problems page or alternatively please call us on