Hedges are important for landscape, ecological and archaeological reasons. They are key elements in determining the character of a landscape, and a landscape can be particularly distinct because of its hedge pattern.
New hedges should reinforce existing landscape, road and garden character, and this can be achieved in the following ways:
- Select species appropriate for local conditions, common to the area and use in similar proportions. A mixed species hedge encourages biodiversity more than a single species hedge.
- Make sure to obtain plants from a reputable source. The plants should be healthy and have been lifted carefully, stored and transplanted as fragile living organisms. Ensure that the roots have been kept moist since lifting, either wrapped in moist sacking, or ‘heeled in’.
- Prune damaged, diseased or dead wood immediately after first leaf break. Follow with a light trim every second or third year, allowing the hedge to increase in size each time.
- Replace dead, dying or damaged stock with the same species as soon as practicable in the first planting season following failure.
- After severe frosts and winds, firm in around the base of each plant and ensure that tree stakes and ties and shelters are secure.
- Ensure the tree ties are not so tight that they damage the stems. Regularly check and loosen to allow growth. Trees should be able to be self-supporting by the third year when the stakes and ties should be removed to avoid damage to the tree and making it dependent on support.
- Check regularly that the shrub guards are sound and secure, and replace as necessary.
- Maintain a metre wide strip in a weed free condition for at least three years, to reduce competition from grass and weeds for moisture and nutrients.
- It is important to protect the newly planted hedge from grazing animals, therefore a timber post and wire netting fence, erected at least a metre away from the closest row of plants is recommended. The fence materials and style should meet with British Standard.