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Expert Advice

We hope the following tips will help your plants to get off to a good start.

  • Don't expose the plant roots to air any longer than necessary.
  • Plant the tree or shrub into the soil the same depth as it was in when growing in the nursery.
  • Make the hole wide enough to receive the roots with ease.
  • If the soil is poor add fresh soil, mosspeat, or some other form of compost. Pack the soil around the plant with your foot so as to firm the plant in the ground.
  • Stake if necessary , especially for large specimens. Secure the stake at the prevailing wind side.
  • Water during dry weather periods , especially during the first six weeks. Keep the plant free of grass and weeds during its first year.
  • Check occasionally that the plant is straight and firm.

Where to Plant.

As small woods - in new areas or adding to existing woods. Neglected woods can be renewed by new planting. Small woods are important countryside features.

As shelterbelts - Shelterbelts are beneficial for farm animals and can help to shield gardens and houses from the direct and damaging effects of strong winds. A belt of trees about 10 metres (30 feet) wide can provide shelter for an area equal to ten times the height of the trees.

Near buildings - although planting trees too close to buildings is not recommended, trees planted a safe distance from farmyards and other buildings can make working areas more pleasant and comfortable and help to reduce heating bills.

On unused land - some steep slopes provide opportunities for tree planting which can help to anchor the soil and add character to the landscape. Trees can also be planted along farm roads, by streams or in field corners.

Size to Plant- the best size of young tree for most situations is the ‘whip’ which is about 3 - 5 ft high. Whips are cheaper than nursery ‘standards’ and can outgrow them in a few years. They do not need to be staked and weeding is less critical than with the smaller ‘forest transplants’ (about 1 ft high). However, transplants are cheaper for larger areas (e.g. half an acre or more).

When to plant - broadleaves are best planted from November to April, but not while the soil is waterlogged or frozen. Conifers are best planted in September or April.

Protection - young trees need to be fenced to protect against livestock, and fine mesh fencing or tree tubes are essential to protect against rabbits and hares. Deer fencing will be needed where deer are a problem.

Maintenance - essential to ensure that young trees get a good start. They should be kept clear of smothering weeds either manually by cutting or trampling, or by weed killer sparingly applied around the base of the tree. Using tree tubes also helps. If you use a herbicide, remember to avoide spraying the young trees themselves. In dry periods, newly planted trees should be watered.

After Care

Pruning Hedges

Trim during early Spring late Autumn. .Avoid disturbing nesting birds by not trimming during March - August . Autumn trimming can destroy birds winter food supplies such as berries.

For the best econony and least wildlife disturbance, trim only every three years.

By trimming hedges in rotation around the farm (i.e. always some uncut) trimming can take place from late August to February with minimal wildlife disturbance.

If the hedge has value for shelter, it can be sidetrimmed with a circular shape saw. It may need planting or further trimming to encourage thickening.

Neglected Hedges

Hedges can grow too tall and wide, and so waste land and cast excessive shade. Neglected hedges can also become thin and gappy at the base, with bare, exposed banks.

The main methods of rejuvenating neglected hedges are:

Coppicing - All growth is cut down to 75mm (3 in) above ground level and left to re-grow. Coppicing on a 6 -10 year rotation is an effective and economic method of hedge management in arable areas and provides a valuable source of firewood.

Gapping Up - A hedge will deteriorate over time if gaps are not replanted. Gaps should be cleared out and cut back to healthy vegetation. Dig in well-rotted manure, otherwise hawthorn plants will not grow in an old hawthorn hedge. Plant staggered rows, 500mm (18 in) spacings, of hawthorn, blackthorn or beech.

Young plants should be weeded and protected from stock by a temporary fence such as an electric fence

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