Sheltered Hedging for Exposed Gardens
Filtering the Wind
In very exposed gardens, and especially near the sea where salt-laden wind can be a problem, it may be impossible to make a garden without providing a windbreak. The most effective is a belt of evergreen trees which absorbs the wind gradually rather than checking it suddenly and causing great turbulence.
The alternative is a tall hedge, preferably evergreen. This can give some protection on the leeward side up to thirty times its height. In most gardens, hedges serve rather different purposes, partly as barriers to mark boundary lines and keep out intruders but also as ornamental features and to create divisions within the garden.
The requirements for these wind-taming devices are naturally different. Windbreaks must be fast growing yet sturdy, well anchored in theand able to survive intense exposure. Outer hedges also need to be strong, well branched and impenetrable. Within the garden, however, appearance becomes the dominant qualification. Here there is even a place for miniature hedges formed of low-growing plants such as lavender, rosemary and santolina.
For all hedges the ground should be well prepared by digging and enriched with manure and fertilizer to a width of at least one metre for the entire length of the hedge.
The best time to plant evergreen hedges is in spring or autumn, deciduous hedges in autumn or winter. The simplest and most effective method of planting is usually to open up a trench about 30cm (1ft) wide and deep (more for very big plants) the whole length of the hedge, space out the plants in this at the correct distance apart and then return the soil and tread it in firmly. In exposed places it will be wise to drive in posts every 2-3m (6-loft), strain one or two wires between them and tie the plants to these so that there is no risk of their being rocked or blown out by wind.
Initial pruning depends on the type of hedge plant used and the purpose for which it is required. Windbreaks, often formed of some variety of cypress, are best left to grow up as rapidly as possible with their leading growths unpruned.and hawthorn, by contrast, used as outer barriers and therefore needing to be well branched right from the base, should be beheaded as soon as they are planted to encourage branching from low down. Subsequently, evergreen hedges are trimmed between May and August, with any hard cutting necessary done as early as possible in that period. Deciduous hedges are pruned in winter with no more than light thinning in summer.
Flowering hedges must be pruned so as to interfere as little as possible with their flowering. This means doing it immediately after flowering, if flowering is over by June, or doing it in spring if the shrubs flower after midsummer. Berry-bearing shrubs, such as pyracanthas, are best pruned in summer when it can be seen where the berries are and care can be taken to retain as many as possible.
Clipping of all small-leaved hedges can be done with hand shears or mechanical trimmers. Large-leaved hedges, and also flowering and berry-bearing hedges, can be thinned in the same way, but a better though slower job is achieved using secateurs.