The secret to happy and healthy hedges

A hedge is a great way to provide a screen around a backyard or property.

Article by Sarah “The Gardener” O’Neil, from our garden care partners, Gardena & Yates.

In addition to adding a lush, green natural outlook, a hedge offers a home to wildlife, filters noise and is a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to a fence. However, a good-looking hedge does need a little care and attention.

Establishing a hedge:

  • Before planting, check to make sure the area has good drainage and doesn’t become waterlogged. The conditions should be similar along the length of the proposed hedge to avoid uneven growth.
  • Prepare the ground well to remove any weeds and enrich with organic material to give the plants a good start.
  • Select plants suitable for hedging, and that don’t mind being pruned. Find out what grows well in your area to avoid ones that are likely to struggle and cause gaps in your hedge. There are plenty to choose from and can even provide seasonal interest including fragrant flowers.
  • Plan for regular watering while the hedge establishes, and in dry seasons. Consider setting up an irrigation system under the hedge.
  • Plant the trees at the correct spacing to avoid overcrowding. Too close will fill in faster but may cause problems in the long run. As a general rule use a planting distance of half the width of the mature tree.
  • Mulch under the hedge to suppress weeds and retain moisture but avoid making contact with the trunks.
  • A light prune after planting helps to establish the hedge.


Maintaining a hedge:

  • Feed the hedge several times a year to promote lush leaves, good health and an increased resilience to pest and disease.
  • Always use good quality clean and sharp tools to avoid causing harm and spreading disease between plants.
  • Prune in late winter, spring, and early summer to encourage dense bushy growth and to control the height.
  • Take care not to disturb nesting birds early in the season.
  • Prune so the hedge is wider at the bottom than the top to ensure the sunlight reaches the whole plant for even growth.
  • Remove dead or diseased wood at the base of the branch, then cut thicker protruding branches, before trimming the hedge for shape. Avoid cutting beyond the green growth.
  • To prevent fungal diseases, avoid pruning in autumn and prune in clear dry conditions during the cool of the day.
  • Monitor your hedge regularly for pests and diseases, particularly in summer when the risk is higher. Treat immediately.

As with everything in gardening there are always exceptions so if you are unsure, ask your friendly Mitre 10 garden centre team for the best advice for caring for your hedge.