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Here are some Frequently Asked Questions and advice about Hedging Plants including Leylandii, Laurel and other hedges. If you can’t find the answer or are having difficulty ordering online, please contact us and we will try and help you.

  • Which is the best evergreen hedge (i.e. keep their leaves all year round)?
    Here is a list of the best evergreen hedging plants:
    Laurel (aka Cherry Laurel, Common Laurel, Prunus laurocerasus)
    Green Leylandii (x Cuprocyparis leylandii)
    Leylandii 2001 (x Cuprocyparis leylandii 'Leylandii 2001')
    Golden Leylandii (Leylandii Castlewellan Gold or Leylandii Excalibur Gold)
    Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata)
    Portugal Laurel (aka Portuguese Laurel)
    Griselinia littoralis
  • How far apart do I need to plant to form a dense screen?
    We recommend planting most fast-growing, evergreen hedging plants (including Leylandii, Laurel, Portugal Laurel, Thuja plicata and Griselinia) between 60cm and 100cm apart (approximately 2-3 feet apart). Hedges with plants 60cm (2ft) apart "fill in" quicker than those planted 100cm apart but you get just as good a hedge in the long run at either distance apart.

    If you want to form a very tall hedge (5m or taller) then plant at 100cm apart.

    Click here to go to our Hedge Spacing Calculator to work out the number of plants you need. Just measure the distance in metres or feet from the start to the end of where you would like the hedge and enter this into the Hedge Spacing Calculator.

    Slower growing hedging plants should such as Box and Yew should be planted closer togerther - 30cm (1ft) apart

  • When is the best time to plant a hedge?

    The best time to plant is between September and March but container-grown plants can be planted at any time of year provided they are given sufficient water.

    If you plant between September and February, you probably won't need to water them unless you want to increase the amount of growth you get over the summer period.

    If you plant between April and September, you will need to water the soil around their roots twice a week or more to ensure the roots do not dry out while they are getting established in the soil (generally from planting until the end of October).

  • Which is the fastest-growing, evergreen hedge?

    Green Leylandii is the quickest-growing evergreen hedge, growing up to 1 metre (3ft) per year. The next quickest is Golden Leylandii (Leylandii Castlewellan Gold) and Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata).

    If you don't want a conifer hedge, Laurel is the fastest-growing evergreen hedging plant followed by Portuguese Laurel and Griselinia. See below for the growth rates of our hedging plants under ideal conditions.

  • How fast do different hedging plants grow a year?

    Here are the growth rates of different types of hedging plants under ideal conditions (see question below for what are ideal conditions).

    Leylandii (Green) grows up to 1 metre (3ft) per year

    Leylandii Castlewellan Gold grows up to 80cm (2'8") per year

    Thuja plicata (Western Red Cedar) grows up to 80cm (2'8") per year

    Laurel grows up to 60cm (2ft) per year

    Portugal Laurel grows up to 50cm (1'8") per year)

    Griselinia littoralis grows up to 50cm per year (1'8") per year

    Thuja occidentalis 'Brabant' (White Cedar) grows up to 75cm (2'6") per year

    Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd' or 'Emerald' grows up to 30cm per year (1'0" per year)

    Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium) grows up to 50-60cm per year (2'6" to 2'0" per year)

    Photinia Red Robin grows up to 50cm per year (1'8" per year)

    Holly (Ilex aquifolium) grows up to 30cm (1ft) per year

    Yew (Taxus baccata) grows up to 25cm per year (9 inches per year)

    Box (Buxus sempervirens) grows up to 15cm per year (6 inches per year)

    Hawthorn (usually part of a mixed native hedge) grows 60-90cm per year (2-3ft)

    Hazel, Field Maple, Spindle & Dogwood (usually part of a mixed native hedge) grow up to 45cm per year (1'6" per year)

    Hornbeam grows up to 50cm per year (1'8" per year)

    Beech (Green) grows up to 50cm per year (1'8" per year)

  • What are ideal conditions for growth?

    Ideal conditions are a moist but well-drained, uncompacted soil with adequate feed for the first year or two, in full sun and out of a strong wind. We recommend planting them with Greenshutters' Controlled-Release 12-14 month Controlled-Release Fertiliser. It's a commercial feed that we use when we grow them, so it's got all the feed they need for a whole year.

    You will also get more growth from your plants if you ensure the soil is broken up when they are planted. A compacted soil can dramatically reduce the growth rate as the plants cannot get their roots in the ground to take up the water and nutrients they need to grow quickly.

    If they are watered during the summer and if they are in full sun, your hedging plants will grow quicker. Leylandii and especially Laurel, will grow well in shade (just not quite as fast). Leylandii, Thuja and many native hedging plants will stand up well to strong winds but this will reduce their speed of growth and make them grow bushier.

  • How do I plant a hedge?
    1. Clear any weeds or grass from the area where the hole is to be dug.
    2. Dig a square hole to a suitable size (see below) or dig a trench.

    3. Break up the soil in the bottom of the hole with a spade and mix in some feed (we recommend Greenshutters' 12-14 month controlled-release fertiliser). If the soil is poor, add some compost.
    4. Water the root-ball of the plant so it is moist all the way through.
    5. Remove the pot. If the plant is root-balled, leave the hessian netting on, do not remove it.
    6. Place the plant in the hole and back-fill with soil and compost. Firm around the sides of the root-ball. Stake the plant if necessary.
  • How big do the holes need to be when I plant them?

    The size of the hole you need to dig depends on the size of the pot/container your hedging plants are grown in or, if they are rootballed hedging plants, the size of the rootball. Generally, you need a minimum hole size of 1.5x the width (diameter) of the pot and dug to the depth of the pot plus a couple of centimetres to make sure the top of the rootball is not proud of the soil level when the soil settles. You do not want to plant too deep but it is best to break up the soil in the bottom of the hole for at least another 15-30cm (6-12") to ensure the soil is not compacted and the roots can get into the soil easily. Although you are going to fill the soil back into the hole and heal it in with your heal or hands, digging the hole wider than the pot size also means the soil has been broken up to the sides of the rootball and any side roots can get out into the soil easily.

    Below are some of the different pot-sizes we use and their approximate sizes and the equivalent ideal hole size needed. Pot sizes may vary depending on the manufacturer but this will give you a rough idea of how big the hole should be. Ideally the hole should be square as this can stop the roots growing round in circles rather than into the soil, or you can dig a trench if it is easier.

    2 litre pot size = 17cm wide by 13cm deep. Minimum recommended hole size = 26cm wide by 15cm deep

    3 litre pot size = 19cm wide by 15cm deep. Minimum recommended hole size = 29cm wide by 17cm deep

    4 litre pot size = 21cm wide by 17cm deep. Minimum recommended hole size = 32cm wide by 19cm deep

    5 litre pot size = 23cm wide by 18cm deep. Minimum recommended hole size = 35cm wide by 20cm deep

    5 litre deep pot size = 18cm wide by 19cm deep. Minimum recommended hole size = 27cm wide by 21cm deep

    7.5 litre pot size = 25cm wide by 21cm deep. Minimum recommended hole size = 38cm wide by 23cm deep

    10 litre pot size = 28cm wide by 23cm deep. Minimum recommended hole size = 42cm wide by 25cm deep

    15 litre pot size = 30cm wide by 25cm deep. Minimum recommended hole size = 45cm wide by 27cm deep

    20 litre pot size = 35cm wide by 29cm deep. Minimum recommended hole size = 53cm wide by 31cm deep

    25 litre pot size = 37cm wide by 28cm deep. Minimum recommended hole size = 56cm wide by 30cm deep

    30 litre pot size = 38cm wide by 29cm deep. Minimum recommended hole size = 57cm wide by 31cm deep

    35 litre pot size = 40cm wide by 31cm deep. Minimum recommended hole size = 60cm wide by 33cm deep

    50 litre pot size = 50cm wide by 41cm deep. Minimum recommended hole size = 75cm wide by 43cm deep

  • How do I get a hedge to “fill in” quicker?

    Trim the shoots coming out of the hedge, this will encourage the side shoots within the hedge to grow and the hedge will fill in much quicker than if you leave these shoots to get long and wide. If you imagine how wide you want the hedge to be and trim any shoots coming out wider than you want the width of the hedge, this will create a narrow but dense hedge.

    Leylandii & Thuja - Leave the top shoot of Leylandii and Thuja until it is about 15cm (6 inches) lower than you want the hedge to be and then trim this off. Trim off any shoots growing out of the hedge back to your ideal hedge width - this will make it "fill-in" within the hedge rather growing out wide and open.

    Laurel, Portugal Laurel, Griselinia and other evergreen hedging plants - pinch or cut off the top 2cm of each top shoot in March and again in early summer, this will encourage shoots further down the stem to grow and make the hedge bushier, you will not lose much growth in terms of height but will get a much denser hedge much more quickly. Trim off any shoots growing out of the hedge back to your ideal hedge width. This will also make it "fill-in" quicker.

  • When is the best time to trim a hedge?

    You can trim a hedge at any time of year. We do ours annually in February or August, as long as it is not too hot and dry. You should avoid trimming during the bird's nesting season (March to July) as many birds like to nest in hedges, especially mixed native hedges, and you will disturb them if you trim at this time.

    Do not trim a Leylandii hedge back to late in the year (after mid August) as it is best to give it time to grow back with some fresh growth before winter.

  • How often do I need to trim a hedge?

    You will need to trim your hedge once or twice a year to keep it neat. There is less waste to get rid of and it is an easier job if you trim it twice a year. We trim our hedges once a year on the nursery and this keeps them looking good. We do not recommend trimming them more than twice a year as it can weaken the plants especially if they are trimmed back too hard. With Leylandii, we recommend leaving 10cm (4in) of green growth on the hedge. Do not trim it back close to the brown.

  • Can I keep a leylandii hedge small and/or narrow?

    Yes, leylandii can be kept trimmed to any height and width. It is a myth that they can’t be kept small. If you want to keep a leylandii hedge small, you will need to trim it twice a year to keep it looking neat. We have kept a leylandii hedge at 120cm (4ft) tall by 45cm (18 inches) wide for 20 years by trimming it twice a year. There is also a picture of a 90cm (3ft) Green Leylandii hedge and a 120cm (4ft) Leylandii Castlewellan Gold hedge on our Hedge Gallery - proof that they can be kept small.

    To keep a hedge narrow, you need to trim off any shoots/branches coming out of the hedge wider than you want the hedge to be. Do this from the start, as soon as you plant the hedge, and you will encourage the side shoots to grow within the hedge. This will create a narrow hedge that “fills in” quicker.

  • Do smaller plants grow faster than larger specimens?
    No, not if your hedging plants are planted well and are given sufficient feed and water while they are establishing. It is essential to make sure the soil is broken up below and to the sides of the rootball of the plant so the roots can get into the soil quickly. This obviously takes more effort with a bigger plant as the rootball is bigger and the subsequent hole needs to be bigger. However, if the roots can get into the soil easily, the plant can take up the water and nutrients required and grows quickly, even in the first year.

    A plant that is 2m tall will form a 2m+ dense hedge quicker than one that is 1m tall. We planted some of our 175-200cm leylandii, fed them with Greenshutters Controlled-Release 12 month feed and watered them regularly. We got 90cm+ growth in the first year after planting, 90cm growth in the second year.

  • My leylandii hedge has grown too tall and wide. Can I trim it back?
    You can always reduce the height but you cannot cut back into old wood to make it much narrower as leylandii will not re-shoot from old wood (wood with no green shoots on it). As long as you leave green shoots, then the plants will shoot back. Leylandii should be trimmed regularly from a young age, if this is done, they can be kept any height and any width. Unfortunately, if you have inherited a huge hedge or let one go, then, in many cases, it is better to cut it down and start again.
  • How far from a wall or fence can I plant them?
    We recommend about 45-60cm (18-24 inches). Bear in mind that the part of the hedge against the wall or fence will turn brown once the hedge has filled-in as no light will get to that side of the hedge. Above the fence growth will be normal. This will not harm the hedge and you will not see it but if the wall or fence is removed at a later date, the hedge will look brown on that side and will not re-shoot if it is Leylandii. Laurel, Thuja and other evergreen shrubs should re-shoot if the fence is removed.
  • Do I need to stake my hedging plants?
    If they are large plants and/or are in a windy position, then you will need to stake the plants. If you do not stake them and they blow in the wind, this could break any new roots and set them back.
  • How do I trim my tall leylandii hedge?
    We recommend keeping any hedge to a manageable height. If a hedge is kept between 2-2.5m (6-8ft) tall, it is easy to trim and keep in check. If you would like your hedge to grow taller, there are lots of long-pole hedge trimmers and hedge-cutting platforms on the market that will allow you to trim your hedge up to about 5-6m (15-18ft) tall.
  • Are your plants container-grown or field-grown (rootballed)?
    Nearly all of our Leylandii and Griselinia are container-grown (i.e. grown in pots or troughs). From November to early April we sell Laurel, Portugal Laurel and Thuja that are grown in the field. In the winter months, when they are not growing, these can be dug from the field with a ball of soil around the roots. This is called "rootballed". The ball of soil is usually wrapped in hessian to keep it from falling apart and the plants can be planted with the hessian on, it doesn't need to be removed. The hessian will rot down quickly.
  • Will they need watering after I plant them?
    It depends on the time of year you plant them. If you plant between October and March, then you probably won't need to water them unless you want to increase the amount of growth you get over the summer period. If this is the case, then water them when the soil starts to dry out in Feb/March/April and continue to water them throughout the growing season (until the end of October) or until the soil wets up again in the winter.

    If you plant between April and September, you will need to water the soil around their roots twice a week or more to ensure the roots do not dry out while they are getting established in the soil.

  • How long does it take to form a really dense screen?
    It depends on what size plants you buy, the growing conditions and how far apart you plant them. Under ideal conditions, leylandii should create a good screen after two years growth when planting 120cm+ tall plants at 60cm apart and it will take about three years at 100cm apart.

    Laurel and other evergreen shrubs can sometimes form "instant hedges" if planted 50cm apart with our bushier and taller specimens.

    Our instant hedging troughs will form an instant screen.
  • Is there any difference between Green Leylandii and Castlewellan Gold, apart from the colour?
    The golden form of leylandii, Castlewellan, grows slightly slower than the green form (approx 80cm per year as opposed to 100cm per year*) but Castlewellan tend to put more of their energy into "bushing out" as they grow upwards so in overall terms, there is usually little difference in time to form a dense hedge.

    *Growth rates under ideal conditions (see above).
  • Which are the best hedging plants for growing in pots or containers?

    You can keep most plants in pots but it is more difficult to keep them looking good than if they are planted in the ground. In general, the bigger the pots or containers, the better as they will need less watering.

    The best evergreen plants for growing in pots are Griselinia littoralis or Portugal Laurel (Prunus lusitanica ‘Angustifolia’) and Thuja Emerald (Smaragd).

    Quicker growing plants need more watering and feeding than slower growing plants.

    Plants in containers will need watering most days from March to October, they will struggle to survive a hot weekend if you are away so you will need to arrange for someone reliable to water them. Alternatively, a good idea is to use automatic drip irrigation to keep them watered but this will need to be closely monitored because if it fails while you are away (e.g. the hose bursts off the tap for instance) your plants could die. You will also need to feed them regularly.

    Don’t let them get too big for the pot or they will not be able to get enough water from the root system they have. In essence, large plants can be kept in pots but it's much easier if you can put them in the ground.

    Planting in soil is much better. If the problem is a layer of concrete or hardcore then it may be better to dig a hole through it and fill it with a mixture of topsoil and compost so the roots of the plant can grow through that down to the soil below the concrete/hardcore.

  • What is the current legislation about leylandii & other high hedges?

    Leylandii can still be planted as a hedge without any problems as long as they are well-maintained. The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 relates to high hedges and allows councils to take action where "reasonable enjoyment of a property is being adversely affected by the height of a high hedge situated on land owned or occupied by another person". Nuisance hedges (not always leylandii) are often planted deliberately to annoy neighbours. Hedges should be kept to a height where they are not a nuisance to neighbours.

    There are complicated calculations to determine what constitutes a nuisance hedge that take into account factors such as proximity to a neighbours house, height of hedge and the loss of light to a house or garden. If you are planting a hedge close to a neighbour's house you must not let it grow more than 2 metres (6'6") tall. For more details see the Government Paper on Hedge Height and Light Loss  - click here to follow the link

  • Do you do free delivery if I order over a certain amount?

    Many nurseries offer "free delivery", however, this is because they add the cost of delivery on to the cost of the plants. We charge for delivery but keep the price of our plants as low as possible. Another reason we do not include delivery charge in the cost of the plants is in case you would like to collect the plants from our Garden Centre in Somerset. Orders must total more than £120.00 for us to deliver. This is because the delivery charge no longer covers the full cost of delivery due to recent price increases from couriers and timber manufacturers (for making the crates the plants are shipped in). For more details on our delivery charge, please click here.

  • Where will you deliver?

    We deliver to most of the England, Scotland and Wales. Our minimum order is £120.00 worth of plants plus delivery charge. Please enter your postcode when you view your Basket and then click Update. The delivery charge will then be displayed. If your postcode is not recognised or the plants are too tall for delivery by courier, please ring us on 01460 281265 to get a quote for delivery. To see how we calculate delivery charge, please click here

    If plants are in stock, we are usually able to deliver within 2-3 working days. You can choose your delivery date just before the payment stage of the checkout process.

  • How can I pay?

    Payment can be made by credit card online or over the phone. We may need to get a signature and see the card at the time of delivery, especially if the card address is different from the delivery address.

  • How do I place an order?
    The easiest way to order, is to order online. Just add the plants to your basket and following the instructions to choose your delivery date. You can pay by debit or credit card online. Alternatively, if you would like to speak to someone, you can ring us on 01460 281265 and we can take your order over the phone. Our opening hours are 9.00am-5.30pm Monday to Saturday and 10.00am-4.00pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

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