Hedges are a fantastic way to add structure, privacy, and beauty to your garden. However, a sparse hedge can be a landscape’s bane – lackluster in its aesthetic appeal and ineffective in its functional capacity. The trick to transforming your line of shrubs into a thick, verdant barrier lies in dedicated maintenance, strategic planting, and a good understanding of the plants themselves. This comprehensive guide delves into practical techniques on how to make your hedges grow thicker.
1. Choose the Right Hedge Plant
To start with, the choice of the plant is instrumental. Species grow at different rates and have different innate thicknesses. Fast-growing plants such as privet, laurel, or hornbeam are great options if you’re aiming for a dense, thick hedge quickly. Other popular dense hedge plants include boxwood, yew, and hawthorn.
2. Planting Techniques for Thick Hedges
When you’re prepping for planting, consider a double staggered row instead of a single line. Placing the plants in a ‘zigzag’ can make the hedge look denser even before it fills in. If space constraints require a single row, be sure to not skimp on the number of plants. Tighter spacing promotes hedge thickness.
3. Feeding the Hedge
Like all plants, hedges respond well to an appropriate feeding regime. Growing a thick, dense hedge requires high energy input from the plant, which in turn needs nutrients. Use an all-purpose or specially formulated hedge fertilizer that complements your soil type, for the best results. Regular feeding, typically in early spring and midsummer will help to sustain growth.
4. Pruning for Thickness
Counterintuitively, the key to a thicker hedge is frequent cutting. Pruning encourages the plant to produce new growth and become denser.
The first couple of years after planting, focus on formative pruning during the winter or spring, before peak growth season. This involves reducing the plant’s height, encouraging it to divert energy to lateral growth.
For established hedges, maintenance pruning is essential. This is best done in late summer. Remember to keep the top of the hedge slightly narrower than the base, to allow sunlight to penetrate fully.
Impeccable sharp shears or a hedge trimmer are a must-have for clean cuts. Be sure to remove dead or diseased parts of the plant to prevent their spread.
5. Watering Regime
Water is essential for your hedge, especially during the planting and establishment phase. Deep watering encourages root development and, consequently, thick growth. The actual quantity and frequency depend on the hedge species and climate but avoiding waterlogged soil is important as it could cause root rot.
6. Fostering a Healthy Soil Ecosystem
Healthy soil is central to a healthy hedge. Mulching – applying a layer of organic matter (compost, manure, wood shavings) onto your soil surface – is an efficient way to improve soil structure, fertility, and moisture-holding capacity. Mulch also keeps the root area cool, suppresses weed growth, and prevents soil erosion.
7. Disease and Pest Control
Finally, regular inspections for pests and diseases help keep problems in check before they can hinder growth. Using appropriate treatments, or better yet, cultivating biodiversity that encourages the hedge’s natural predators, will make your life easier and your hedge thicker.
Creating a dense hedge requires patience and care, but with dedicated attention to plant selection, planting technique, nutrition, pruning, watering, and pest management, you can enjoy the privacy, beauty, and rich habitat that a thick hedge provides. The joy of seeing your hedge flourish year after year is worth the effort — a tangible reward of your gardening prowess.
By providing the right environment and care for your hedges, you’ll improve their foliage density and overall health, transforming your outdoor space in the process. Not only will you achieve the practical benefits of a robust, thick hedge, but you’ll also revel in the sense of accomplishment that comes with molding nature into your private sanctuary.