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Pruning new hedges

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Question from Candy Blackham

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I am about to plant new hedging which is a mix of indigenous plants - Acer, hawthorn, spindle tree, wild sloe, cherry plum, viburnum opulus and the field rose - do I need to prune any of these to encourage bushing? And secondly, I have inherited some yew hedging which is about two years old - am I correct in thinking I need to keep the leading shoot and trim (cut back) the side shoots?

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  • Replies: 6
  • Posted: Tue. 15th March 2011 18:17

Re: Pruning new hedges

Reply from Kathy C

Hi, Candy
You are spot on about the yew - do not cut the top, only the sides when establishing a yew hedge. And, ideally, try to make it a little wider at the base. Though not an expert on pruning mixed hedges, (and you'll probably want to double-check with whomever you purchase the plants from) you could probably safely prune them all in autumn (but the best time to prune sloe is in midsummer).
Kathy C

  • Posted: Wed. 16th March 2011 22:34

Re: Pruning new hedges

Reply from Marie

Hi Candy

I planted a mixed native hedge in Autumn 09. The instructions said to prune the main stem by a third and then and all the remaining lateral stems by a third straight on planting and again in year 2 when dormant over winter. Then leave to grow. It warned that failure to prune results in a thin bottom to the hedge.

BTW ours suffered from drought last spring and we lost quite a few so keep an eye on the rainfall and be prepared to water from now onwards for the first couple of years.

Marie

  • Posted: Mon. 21st March 2011 15:01

Re: Re: Pruning new hedges

Reply from Candy Blackham

Thanks for this Marie; has your new hedging bushed out as a result of the pruning? I have cut down, but I am not sure I have done enough - nervous! I have been advised to water and will be installing a seep hose to ensure regular watering.

  • Posted: Tue. 22nd March 2011 08:16

Re: Pruning new hedges

Reply from Marie

Hi Candy

I've pruned mine quite hard both years and now I'm leaving them alone. Don't expect miraculous bushy growth they are really just finding their feet and establishing a root system for the first couple of years (which is why watering is really helpful - one good soaking a week is what you should be aiming for (unless you've had lots of rain) as this gets down to the roots).

What you'll find with the pruning is that on every stem you cut the buds behind will then create new stems. By pruning you are therefore encouraging more stem growth which in turn bears leaves and hence looks bushier. But you won't really see the benefits of this until the hedge really gets going in say year 3 or 4. The hedging section of Buckingham Nurseries website has some good photos of hedge growth if you are interested.

As everything is now budding up I wouldn't prune yours again now until next winter. Then I'd suggest cutting the central leader down by a third and then shorten all side stems by a third. If you have dog rose you'll probably find that has put on a lot of growth over the year and you might want to cut that by half. Always cut about an inch or so above a bud.

Don't be nervous you really can't hurt these plants they are very tough :-)

Oh yeah and if you can be bothered you should try to keep weeds and grass away from the base of the hedge as much as possible as these will compete with the hedge for water and nutrients. But again so long as you are making sure it is watered you don't have too worry too much - my hedge is far to long to keep it pristine and it is doing fine!

Good luck :-)

Marie

  • Posted: Tue. 22nd March 2011 08:57

Re: Pruning new hedges

Reply from city girl

I had a new mixed hedge 11 years ago when i moved here. Now with 10 years of care, pulling in and tying in most of the shoots rather than pruning and cutting some old rose wood out of the middle. I now have a thick (about 2 foot) 6-7 foot high hedge which is heaven for the birds and looks fabulous. See my blog for information about what I've done so far and some pictures- citygirlhitsthecountry.wordpress.com

However now it's getting to the stage when I won't be able to reach the top or the back as it edges the top of a bank.
What is the best way off cutting it, short of getting a tractor and hedge cutter in, and when is the best time to do it?

  • Posted: Wed. 27th August 2014 16:54

Re: Re: Pruning new hedges

Reply from Marie

Hi, you can get platform ladders which will help you reach safely.

We only cut our hedge once a year (following RSPB advise) and we do that in late Feb. This leaves all berries on over winter for the birds to eat and doesn't disturb them in nesting season.

If you want to keep a neater hedge you can also prune in late summer.

  • Posted: Thu. 28th August 2014 08:34