Yew makes an excellent hedge and can also be used to create beautiful topiary shapes
How and when to plant a hedge
October is a perfect time to decide, order and plant bare-root hedging. And although these small, inexpensive hedging whips (which measure 2 - 3 feet and cost an average of 90 pence each) look tiny when you plant them, they will soon romp away and make a hedge that quickly catches up with expensive, container-grown plants.
Always prepare the ground well and clear the weeds and add some compost or well-rotted manure to the ground if you can. If this is difficult, use blood, fish and bone instead, adding it to the bottom of the planting hole.
Each whip needs to be 15 inches apart and each row 18 inches apart. If you want a double row, stagger the planting and always keep the weeds down by mulching and water your new hedge well in dry weather.
Protect your whips with rabbit shields (if necessary) and then stake. You can plant bare-root hedging up to the beginning of March and your whips can be stored in cool frost-free places if the weather is frosty. But always soak them for a couple of hours before you plant.
If you're interested in using a hedge as a privacy screen,
read our guide to choosing a privacy hedge .
Choosing the best hedge: beech or hornbeam?
When it comes to choosing hedges there's lots of choice. Decide whether you want evergreen or deciduous hedging and always consider maintenance. The best hedges only need a once-a-year trim and slower-growing hedges make better barriers.
The two obvious choices for a deciduous hedge are beech (Fagus sylvatica ) and hornbeam (Carpinus betulus ). Both form attractive green backdrops and they look very similar. But hornbeam comes into leaf earlier and provides a green backdrop by late April.
Beech often waits until mid-May and for this reason alone I favour the crimped, bright-green leaves of hornbeam hedging above the shiny, soft-leaved later beech hedging.
However this decision may be academic. Hornbeam is happiest on heavier, damp soil. If you have lighter, well-drained conditions you will probably have to opt for beech instead.
Conversely beech hates heavy soil. Of the two beech is harder to establish and there are often losses, basically because it's shallow rooted. New plants often suffer from beech aphid too. You can also plant mixed native hedging that attracts wildlife. it will contain several native species but do discuss your conditions.
August is a good month to cut hornbeam and beech.
Go to page two for more hedging ideas.