Trees and Hedges

Trees and hedges help to screen the garden and filter wind and noise. They can also be attractive features in their own right, and are excellent for wildlife. Try to find room for a hedge on at least one boundary, and plant a tree if you can, as part of a mixed border, on its own in a lawn or meadow or in a hedge.

Trees and HedgesIn a small or medium-sized garden, choose the tree and site with care. Many species will be too tall and will cause shading and other problems in years to come. They can also cause damage to foundations and drains if they are planted too close to the house. Look for species whose ultimate height is around 4.5-6.0m (15-20ft). The choice of hedging plants will depend on the function of the hedge. Is it to be a formal backdrop, an impenetrable barrier or an informal but attractive ornamental screen?

Growing Conditions

Most trees and hedging plants are hardy and will thrive in all reasonable garden soils, provided they are well drained. However, some types will not withstand cold winds and frost, so choose plants carefully if you live in cold, exposed areas. If you are planting on uncultivated ground, the soil can be improved as you plant.

Obtaining Plants

Although you can grow some trees and hedging plants from seed, this is a slow process and some ornamental trees can only be propagated by grafting. Specialist tree and shrub nurseries are most likely to have a range of ornamental and native species. These are usually sold bare-rooted or, in the case of conifers, with the rootball wrapped in sacking or nylon netting. Look for small, vigorous plants which usually establish much better than older ones; they are also less expensive and more often than not do not need staking.


Until trees and hedges are established, keep the immediate area around them free from weeds and grass, and water in dry spells; mulch plants that lack vigour with compost in spring. It is not usually necessary to weed, water or feed them once they are established. Trim hedges regularly. Established trees do not generally need pruning except to remove diseased or damaged branches. Remove suckers which appear from the bark of the tree. Carefully check that stakes or ties are not damaging the stem of the tree as it grows.

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