So, having figured out the aspect of your site, discussed it with your neighbours if necessary, figured out how good the soil is, and which plant you want to use, you’re almost ready to plant your hedge.
Below is a general guide on planting a hedge. Different plants and different sized plants will have different requirements. A Camellia hedge could use a little more manure at planting than most others for example. Tubestock (very young plants) will have a different requirement to plants in 45 litre bags as another example. A specific guide for each plant type and size is just not realistic. If you have a specific question please e-mail and I’ll endeavour to get back to you.
Hedge Plant Spacing
There’s no real correct or incorrect answer to “how far apart should my hedge plants be?”. We highly recommend tighter spacing than those who err on the side of extra width. The 0.3 rule is a good one. Multiply your desired hedge height by 0.3. This will mean that for a 1m high hedge, each plant will be planted 30cm apart, 1.5m high hedge they will be 45cm apart. There’s nothing stopping you from keeping the spacing close as you go up the scale. It will mean you will have a good, tight, attractive hedge in faster time.
Don’t put your plants in the ground 75cm apart for a 1.5m high hedge. You may regret the time it takes to get your desired look and the gaps at the base won’t add as much value. With the price of a 200mm potted plant running at between $8 and $15 and given the look you’re trying to achieve should add value to your property, skimping on the number of plants (unless it’s an extremely long hedge) is not ideal. Think longer term.
Apart from the look of your hedge you also need to consider root competition when deciding on spacing. The bigger the plant the more extensive the root system, which is part of the reason for wider spacing the higher the hedge. Remember that hedges generally require more feeding (Seaweed solution, liquid and slow realease fertiliser) than stand alone plants because each plant in the line is competing with the next one for available water and nutrients.
- Dig a trench – It sounds like more work but dig a trench, not individual holes. A few reasons for this: a) It is so much easier to line your plants up. b) A trench is uniform and will hopefully provide uniform growth. c) Correct spacing is so much easier. In the long run, you will save time digging a trench.
- Make it Straight – The best way to dig a straight trench is to use string line and marker spray paint. If using 200mm pots (the most common sold at nurseries) give the plants room and make your trench at least 400mm wide. Go to 300mm depth. Place the soil on a tarp and enrich it with compost.
- Check the drainage – Once you have dug your trench, get a hose and water from both ends and the middle to check the drainage. If your hedge is long, this can be done in stages.
- Back Fill the Trench – Back fill to a level slightly higher than that of your pots. You want your hedge plants to sit slightly higher than ground level. It will improve drainage and allow for soil settling. Pat the soil down and dampen it to get rid of as many air pockets as possible.
- Line 3-4 plants up at a time – Examine each plant while in the pot and find which sides have the greatest lateral (side) branching. You want these branches to run down your hedge line rather than on the face of the hedge. Place them in the ground from one end and line them up from EVERY angle ie. from both ends and from both sides. DON’T rely on string line. Trust your eye.
- Back Fill to the Surface – As with any planting, you want to avoid air pockets, so push the soil in around the plant either with hands or the toe of your foot (avoid using your heel).
- Water in Thoroughly – We recommend watering in with Seaweed solution (such as Seasol) at the time of planting rather using any fertiliser.
- Mulch the Surface – Don’t get it too close to the trunk of the plant.
- Tip Prune – Do this IMMEDIATELY. Prune the tops off the plants to a uniform height to encourage side growth. Keep doing this in the first few months (at least). Get the width at the base first. The height will come naturally later.
Note: If you live in a particularly drought prone area or if you’ve chosen plants that are not particularly drought tolerant, install a drip irrigation system along the hedge line.