It’s worth remembering that creating a hedge is not as simple as dig a hole, stick a few hedge plants in the ground and she’ll be apples. To get your row of hedge plants from a 200mm pot to a tight hedge takes time, but you can give it a push along by giving it all the help you can from the day you plant onwards.
The day you plant your hedge
Water it in well before and after you mulch your hedge. Watering well means watering to the point where there is some surface water left around the plant after you turn off the tap or the watering can is empty. If you’ve done your soil preparation correctly the drainage should be good, so don’t be afraid to give them a good water. To help with the effects of transplant shock, put some seaweed solution (like Seasol) into the mix as well.
Tip prune your hedge plants. Don’t hack them back to a solitary stem by any means but don’t leave this for another day either. Forming a hedge is like training a climber up a wall or trellis. You have to help your hedge along (some more than others) by telling your plants what you want them to do. In this case, you want them to bush out from the bottom.
After Day 1
We’re not big on the idea of fertilising your hedge on planting day (especially in Winter when most plants are going into dormancy). Leave it at Seasol to get the plants settled in, then fertilise with a slow release fertiliser after a month or so (except in Winter). When you do fertilise make sure you get the right fertiliser for your hedge plants – Lilly Pillies and Westringia should receive native fertiliser. Plants like Murraya, Gardenia, Camellia and Magnolia are acid loving and should receive a fertiliser to suit.
Don’t over-fertilise (especially with a Camellia hedge). Stick to the recommendations on the pack and water in well each time. Use soluble (liquid fertiliser) as a kick-along for your hedge plants and continue using seaweed solution. A good rule of thumb is to give your hedge a good drink of something other than just water every two weeks – soluble one weekend, seaweed solution two weeks later, then back to soluble again.
Continue to tip prune as your hedge plants grow. Creating a hedge is the simplest form of topiary: you want your hedge plants to develop a shape. Get the bushy effect first by tip pruning the top every 2-3 months or so during the growing season.
Once you have a hedge
Continue to mulch, feed and weed to keep your hedge looking healthy. Most importantly, prune the sides of your hedge at a slight angle, such that the base is a little thicker than the top. This will ensure you retain a thick and bushy hedge to the base by allowing sunlight to hit the base of your plants.
Next week’s articles include: Our top 5 hedge plants for your front boundary, whether you should edge your hedge bed as well as further hedge plant page updates.
Note: Images in this article were not taken by the authors.