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Fences, Walls and Hedges – Tips

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• As with all planting in your garden, keep it local - there are locally distinctive hedgerow types so find out which ones predominate in your area before deciding which to grow.

• Consider which hedges attract the most wildlife - oak, blackthorn (sloe) and hawthorn, for example - and help further by planting wildflowers and grasses at the foot of the hedge.

• Remember you don't have to plant just one variety - you could mix the all-green varieties of holly or privet with variegated species. Hedges can also provide colour in the garden -try planting flowering shrubs such as spiraea, barberry or escallonia in informal hedges.

• Low-growing hedges can be used for ornamental effect between borders, and can also appeal to other senses - try aromatic varieties such as lavender and rosemary.

• Avoid the infamous fast-growing Leyland cypress, which monopolizes soil nutrients over a wide distance and can reach a height of 135 m (150 ft). Opt for hawthorn, yew and beech if you want a quick-growing hedge.

• Don't be overzealous with the trimmer (use garden shears instead) and avoid shaping the hedge into an upright rectangle, as this can lead to top-heavy growth with gaps below. Training the hedge into an A shape (when seen from the side) makes sure the lower levels get as much light as the top and gives a much stronger and healthier structure that makes a better wind- and weatherbreak.

• If your hedge has become thin and gappy, it can be partially revived by the seemingly drastic technique of cutting it almost right down to the ground (with a sloping cut). New growth will usually appear by the next spring, which, with new planting to fill any large gaps, will give a reasonable hedgerow within three to four years.

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