Secure your garden boundary
- laying hedges -

Keep trespasses and animals out of your property by laying hedges properly.

Preliminary notes on security:

Keep access points e.g. doorways well-light or within unobstructed views. Use crunchy gravel drives. Secure windows and doors of outbuildings.

Plants to use for secure hedging:

Berberis Berberis atropurpurea - Deciduous, formal, with vicious sharp spines. Attractive dark red foliage and yellow flowers.

Plant 12" - 15" high plants 18" - 24" apart. Remove the top quarter to obtain bushy growth. Prune every August - September, remove old decayed wood or straggly growth & maintain a tight neat shape.

There are many species of decidious and evergreen Berberis. e.g. B. darwinii no thornes but has spiny leaves. It has 2 flushes of golden flowers and blue berries enjoyed by birds. Berberis also make good nest sites.

Avoid growing Gooseberries near Berberis.

Gorse Ulex europaeus - Spiny shrub, informal, with pretty yellow flowers, can be straggly. Treat as deciduous; propogate by seeds or cuttings. Plant out October to March. Grows in light sandy, poor soils. Needs clipping in March aim to grow tight mounds. Difficult to keep thickness and gain significant height. May not secure small animals, dogs etc... Can be used to deter approaches through certain areas.

Easily ignited in warm dry weather - best not to grow Gorse close to your house or shed.

Hawthorn Crateagus monogyna - Deciduous, formal, thorny, with pretty red / white pleasantly scented flowers in spring. Wild birds use for nesting and enjoy the red berries (known as haws) in autumn if they are left on. Does best in open site but tolerant of exposure, drought and waterlogging.

For hedges use plants 12" - 18" high, spacing 12" - 15" apart. For screen use plants 3' - 4' high, spacing 2' - 3' apart. Plant in winter. Propogate by seed. Cut back July - March. Hawthorn allowed to grow tall can be made good by hedge laying in July - August. Also used as rootstock for ornamentals like Sorbus...

Other Hawthorn species are grown as 15' - 20' ornamental trees. Cockspur thorn C. crus galli has vicious thorns. Laying hedges with such a tree would be an especially thorny problem.

Holly Ilex aquifolium - Evergreen, formal, best in moist loamy soil. Sun needed to develop variagated color forms, otherwise suitable for shaded sites. Also used on exposed or coastal sites and polluted areas.

J.C. Van Tol and Pyramidalis will produce berries without a male tree others need a male and female form for berries.

A secure Holly hedge

Secure Holly is not planted as you would ornamental shrubs. In April / May or September / October plant 18" high individuals with roots inside the boundary spaced 24" apart. Always keep roots moist.

Importantly set the plants at an angle of about 20o to horizontal, facing into your property. Sink the stem in a small trench (at right angles to the hedge line) so the first buds will be below ground level. Cover the roots but initially leave stem uncovered for shoots to grow. Now nip out the end shoot. The buds grow upright branches and form stiff rails several layers deep.

If grazing animals are a problem initially, protect the young hedge with brush wood. Later when the branches have grown up fill the trenches, and if necessary secure the bottom by pilling up a small earth bank.

Prune in April to encourage branching and ensure growth in strength and thickness as well as height.

Sea Buckthorn Hippophae rhamnoides - Deciduous, informal, thorny, for any well-drained garden soil, sun to partial shade. Especially for sandy soils & coastal areas and planted as a wind break. Male and female plants are needed for the pretty orange berries to form. Their nasty taste is not enjoyed by birds.

Can get straggly. For laying hedges plant in winter 18" - 24" apart, for windbreaks 4' - 5' apart - 1 male for 6 females. Promote bushy growth by removing top third. Cut back July - August to avoid straggly growth.

About laying hedges

A traditional method of fixing hedges that are worn and patchy at the bottom is by laying hedges. Just above the base the uprights are cut nearly through. These trunks are then bent over to nearly horizontal. Upright staves are fixed on both sides of the lay and bound together for support. The result is a strong barrier with added wildlife value. Laying hedges is done every 15 years or so. Recommended website on laying hedges.
More on laying hedges coming here soon...
More plants to choose for security when laying hedges

More reading about hedge gardening

RHS - pruning and training - Christopher Brickell

Hedge Trimmers

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