How to Grow a Hedge Quickly
Hedges provide an attractive and natural boundary to a garden. A mature hedge brings privacy, reduces noise from neighbouring properties and roads, creates shelter, captures pollution, attracts wildlife, and serves as a beautiful backdrop for other flowers and plants.
For many homeowners, the informal natural look a hedge provides is more desirable than a fence or wall. However, unlike a fence or wall, hedges take time to grow and reach the preferred level of coverage.
6 Ways to Ensure Your Hedges Grow Quickly
You probably don’t want to wait several years for your hedge to properly establish itself. This might leave you asking whether there are any fast-growing hedge options available. In this guide, we’ll discuss how to grow a hedge quickly and whether you actually need to buy the biggest plant you can afford to achieve a quick hedge as many plants grow quicker than you think
1. Choose a Fast-Growing Variety
The number one factor affecting the speed a hedge grows is the species you’re growing. Some hedges naturally grow faster than others. But along with selecting the right variety, you’ll need to ensure all the conditions are perfect. This includes the pH of the soil, how much water and sunlight it has, and the temperature.
Laurel is a popular fast-growing hedge that can grow around 12-18 inches each year. It will grow in most soil types and fares well in both the sun or shade.
Leylandii is another fast-growing variety which can be clipped tightly to create a denser appearance. This typically grows best in full sunlight, and you can expect it to grow at least 18 inches each year.
A popular alternative to leylandii is the slightly slower-growing Thuja variety of conifer (also known as Western Red Cedar). This species typically grows by 12-18 inches each year and can grow in sunlight or shade.
If you’re looking for the classic hedge look, privet is always a good choice. Although not the fastest grower, privet hedges typically grow around 12 inches each year and tolerates the shade well.
2. Get Your Soil Right
Your soil will need to contain potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus if you want your hedge to grow to its full potential. Nitrogen helps the leaves stay healthy, phosphorus is good for the roots, and potassium improves the general health of the hedge. The best way to determine whether your soil contains these is to test it.
Laying down compost before planting your hedge will ensure the soil naturally contains plenty of nutrients while maintaining a good structure and improving drainage.
Adding fertiliser to the soil also creates a healthy environment with plenty of nutrients for your hedge. This should be applied to the soil every four to six weeks. Another great way of getting nitrogen into your soil is by using manure.
It’s important to check the levels of nutrients you’re adding to your soil. While they are all useful for the speedy growth of your hedge, too much nitrogen, for example, could make the plant leggy, and prone to pests.
3. Plant Your Hedge Correctly
The time of year you choose to plant dictates whether you should buy a bare root or root-balled hedge, or one in a container. If you’re planting in the autumn or winter months, bare root and root-balled hedges can save you money, especially when you’re covering a larger area, however they can take a little longer to establish than a container grown plant.
You can plant container-grown hedges at any time of the year, and if they are cared for well, they will thrive and grow quicker than most root balled or bare root plants.
Before planting your new hedge, it’s important to prepare the ground in advance. Remove all weeds a few weeks in advance, and then check the area before planting.
Ensure you have allowed enough space to accommodate your hedge. Each variety has different requirements, and it’s important to give them the plant space to grow. For example, Thuja, laurel, and leylandii all need to be planted two feet apart, while privet requires around 1.5 foot.
On the day you plan to plant your hedge, ensure the area isn’t waterlogged or frozen.
4. Use Mulch
Mulch consists of dead leaves and bark. Using mulch around the base of your hedge’s roots will preserve them during the colder months. A layer of mulch is helpful as it retains moisture, improves soil fertility, stops weeds growing, and prevents soil erosion.
Using a layer of mulch around the base of your hedge in the spring can speed its growth. In the autumn, add more mulch to protect the hedge during winter.
5. Water Your Hedge
Plants need water to survive and thrive. While we usually get plenty of rain during the autumn and winter months, you will need to water your hedge during the spring and summer. Although don’t underestimate the fact that we can have dry spells over the winter and if you have very free draining soil, your hedge may need an occasional water during the winter months.
Many people make the mistake of trying to water their hedge using a watering can. This will only give moisture to the top level of soil and most of it will run off without benefiting the plant.
The best watering technique is to use a leaky hose. Sometimes called a porous pipe, a leaky hose can be attached to your regular garden hose. Once in place, it will slowly soak the roots of your hedge. Leave the water running through the hose for around three or four hours at least once a week to ensure your hedge gets enough water. If you’re away for any prolonged length of time, have someone come and water your hedge while you’re gone.
For more information, read our blog on how to water your hedges correctly and allow them to flourish.
6. Pruning Your Hedge
Although this guide is aimed at making your hedge grow quicker, you may think it’s counter intuitive to prune it. Pruning is the secret to ensuring a dense appearance, quickly. This is because trimming your hedge stimulates growth.
While your hedge is young, it will need formative pruning to give its shape. This should take place in winter or early spring. Pruning earlier in the year improves growth. Depending on your hedge, you may only need to trim it once a year, but twice a year (or sometimes three times a year) will be preferable for many varieties.
Once the hedge is established, you will need to perform a maintenance trim during the spring or early summer. It’s important to check your hedge for signs of life before you trim, as you may disrupt nesting birds. If you have a bird’s nest in your hedge, wait until nesting season ends later in the summer.
For a smaller hedge, you can use hand-held shears. The bigger your hedge gets, the more work it will take to keep it looking tidy. For bigger hedges, you may want to invest in an electric or petrol hedge trimmer. When pruning, wear goggles, protective gloves and hearing protection. If you’re using an electrical trimmer, ensure conditions are dry and always keep the power cable over your shoulder so that it does not get cut.
Need help? Get in Touch
A big attractive hedge doesn’t need to take years to grow. Following the tips in this guide will help you achieve the best results and grow the perfect hedge in the shortest time.
At Mathias Nurseries, we have everything you need to plant, grow, and maintain the perfect hedge for your garden. Get in touch for more information about any of the hedges or products we sell. If there is anything you are unsure about, feel free to give us a call and we can talk you through it.
Alternatively, read our blog on how to look after your hedges to ensure constant growth.