How to Plant Hedges

A properly planted hedge will be more tolerant of unfavorable conditions, and will require less maintenance than one that has been incorrectly planted. Before making any decisions on how to plant your hedge, consideration should be given to several factors. These include:

    How the plant was grown at the nursery

    The soil type and drainage characteristics

    Container planting versus root planting

Bare root plants are kept on the shelf and not in a pot. The roots are usually loose and ready to be planted. Bare root planting means planting hedges by placing their bare roots into the ground, just like it sounds. Bare root plants tend are usually less expensive, since they are less costly to produce, store, and to ship. Many types of hedges respond well to bare root planting, but there are also disadvantages.

One disadvantage to bare root planting is that hedges which are planted bare rooted, require more initial care. Since the roots will need time to adjust to their new environment, they will require more watering, and sometimes staking, depending on the type and size of the shrub. Another disadvantage of bare root planting is the range of shrub size available for bare root planting is limited, due to the inability to successfully move larger hedges with bare roots. Taking the disadvantages into consideration, bare root planting would not be a good choice for those who do not want to put much maintenance into their hedges, or for those who desire to plant large shrubs.

Many people do choose bare root planting for their hedges though, usually because of cost. When planted hedges that are bare rooted, here are some planting tips to consider:

    Bare rooted hedges should be planted from mid-November to mid-March in most parts of the United States.

    Packing material should be removed carefully from the roots.

    The roots should be thoroughly rinsed and any dead or damaged root carefully clipped.

    Soak roots in water for at least an hour before planting.

    The hole should be dug at least two feet wider than the root system and as deep enough that the soil does not solidify around the roots.

    Once planted, ensure the shrub is standing straight up, and then slowly saturate the soil.

    Be sure to keep the soil moist for at least one year after bare root planting.

Container grown planting is exactly as it sounds, as well. Container grown shrubs are removed from their containers and then placed into the ground. These shrubs were grown in planters and are not considered bare root plants. Just as with bare root planting, there are advantages and disadvantages to container grown planting, also.

When using container grown shrubs, one advantage is that 100 percent of the plant's root system will be present in the container. Another benefit to using container grown plants is that they can be planted anytime throughout the year. It is not obligatory for plants to be dormant when planting container grown plants. But where there are advantages, there are also disadvantages.

The main disadvantage to planting container grown plants is the probability of deformed roots. This is commonly known as "rootbound" plants. These shrubs have roots circling inside the container, and the tangled roots will prevent any further growth and development of the shrub. This problem must be corrected before planting or the shrub may experience many adverse effects, such as:

Slow growth and establishment

Death of the shrub

Some important things to remember when planting a container grown shrub include:

Untangling the root system is a very important step in planting the container grown shrub. Your shrub will not grow or may even die if the root system is not untangled.

Water directly after planting. Hedges need moist soil for at least the first year after it is planted. Make sure the location of the newly planted hedge has adequate drainage.

Space hedges evenly. If hedges are not spaced evenly, you will have a hedge with holes that will not block the wind or provide privacy. Remember that your hedge will be in place for many years, so be sure to plant the shrubs correctly.

Whether you chose bare root plants for your new hedges, or container grown plants, hedges can serve many purposes. They are not only pleasing to the eye, but they can provide privacy, block wind and noise, and provide habitat for the birds and other wildlife.