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The year rolls on… now it’s time to dust off the hedgetrimmers and get to work. A week or so ago it was a client’s privet hedge, now it’s the beech hedge round our front garden and the wildlife hedge at the back.

I’m more than a bit proud of our beech hedge. We planted it ourselves, about 4 years ago after we’d grubbed up a horrid leylandii hedge. Being me, I didn’t do things by halves: I dug a big trench, poured barrowloads of manure in to improve the soil, then planted my staggered rows of beech saplings 18″ apart and back-filled. Then I watered them in very, very well and mulched deeply with well-rotted stable manure.

So far, so what most people do. But ever since, I’ve taken care of the hedge in just the same way as my perennials: I think perhaps this is where people go wrong, in that they forget that hedges are groups of plants, not just inanimate walls, and have the same needs. So I watered the hedge in the droughts, mulched it every spring, and kept it free of weeds.

Result: a four-year-old hedge which looks like it’s been there 10 years. Beech hedges are notoriously slow to establish, and the books say you shouldn’t expect a dense hedge until at least 5 years. Ours took three: and I’m convinced it’s because I took good care of the plants, and am continuing to do so. We’re reaping the rewards now: all that hard work has really paid off, and my little beech trees are thanking me in the only way they know how!

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