Monty Don follows hedgehog along his garden path
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Beech hedges are renowned for their dense foliage. They may be deciduous but, their green leaves stay striking in the winter as they turn a beautiful rusty-brown colour, making them an attractive feature for your garden all year round. Beech is typically used for formal hedging but, they are also great to create privacy and borders. Here are some top tips for maintaining your beech hedges.
Beech hedges are perfect for creating privacy in overlooked gardens as well as providing shelter in the winter.
These hedges grow best in any free-draining soil including chalk.
They can thrive in sunny gardens or part shade so can suit most gardens.
When is the best time to trim beech hedges?
Beech hedges will need your attention soon, as these hedges will need to be cut back at the end of summer.
Typically you should look to trim your hedges in the autumn.
To keep them from looking scrappy you should do one major cut back a year at the end of summer and a minor trim to keep them near and tidy in February.
It is important not to cut your hedges too early – wait until the late summer.
This will allow your beech to keep its recent flush of new leaves over the winter.
Don’t worry if you forget to trim in August, just remember to trim the following spring instead.
When cutting beech or any other hedge you should always remember to taper the sides a bit, so the base of the hedge is slightly wider than the top.
This will help sunlight reach the lower parts of the hedge to ensure your hedge’s growth is dense all the way up to avoid gaps at the base.
How to cut newly planted hedges
If you have newly planted your hedging they should not need much pruning.
Simply tidy them up if they have any scraggly side branches.
If your beach plants are sparse you could help them to thicken up.
To do this simply trim the leading shoot and longer shoots by a third.
Do this straight after planting, or during the winter, and repeat this the next year if the plants still look leggy.
From the third year, your hedges may need more attention.
The Royal Horticultural Society recommends you trim the sides of your hedges in the second week of August.
Only start to trim the top of the hedge when your beech reaches the height you want to keep it at.
Any earlier (even if it looks a bit messy) could stunt its growth.
If your beech is slow to regrow after its first major prune, put off the second cut back for a further twelve months.
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