If you need a touch more privacy in the garden, consider a perfect pleached hedge. In a recent Pots & Trowels video, Martin Fish shared his expert tips and advice for how to prune a pleached hedge in your own garden to help it maintain its shape and structure. You can watch the video below, or keep reading for all the tips, tricks and equipment you need for pruning and training pleached trees.
What is a pleached hedge?
Pleached hedges have seen renewed interest in recent years. Also known as a ‘hedge on stilts’, this classic technique was used in Medieval times to create shaded walkways, as well as in 17th and 18th-century Europe as an architectural feature to line and add structure to the grand gardens of stately homes. Nowadays, they’re a firm favourite with RHS Chelsea garden designers, and are popular in modern gardens to bring structure, privacy or shade to an outdoor space.
Hornbeam is usually favoured the most variety for creating pleached hedges, but they can be created using all different types or trees and hedges such as beech, evergreen oak, limes and London plane. They’re trained on the nursery as a tree, and then from around 6ft they are then fanned out on a framework of canes which give support while the trees are young. The trees are planted so that they’re touching to create a continuous hedge in the garden.
Why choose a pleached hedge?
Pleached hedges are ideal for subdividing different areas of a garden, creating a natural privacy screen or for adding height and structure to an outdoor area.
For example, they’re great for creating privacy in built-up areas where you’ve got neighbours looking in, but you don’t want to, or simply can’t, plant huge trees that are going to take up too much space. If you have a six foot high fence in the garden – which you can install without planning permission – and then use a pleached hedge above it, it’ll give you another four or five feet of privacy on top of that to help enclose your garden from spying eyes. Pleached trees are readily available to buy now from lots of companies, so shop around for which varieties and styles might suit your garden, and your budget, the best.
When to Prune a Pleached Hedge
The optimal time to prune your pleached hedges is around July to August. If you want it to bush out a little bit and encourage a little bit more growth then July is probably better, and then around October to November you can give it a final trim once the leaves have fallen off.
How to Prune a Pleached Hedge
The idea of a pleached hedge is to keep it compact, so if yours is making lots of growth and looking a little shaggy then it’s time to grab those Darlac secateurs and give it a good prune.
Using your pruners, cut back the long shoots that it’s produced this season back to just two or three buds. Spur pruning it back like this helps to keep the nice narrow shape of the head.
Secateurs are great for pruning young hedges as you get a nice clean cut, however once your hedges are more established you’re likely to get a lot more growth that a pair of secateurs just won’t quite be able to handle on their own, so consider investing in a lightweight electric hedge cutter to make the task of trimming that initial growth easier and quicker. You can then go in and tidy it up with your trusty secateurs. Don’t forget about the top of the hedge too!
How to Train a Pleached Hedge for Thicker Growth
If you’re trying to get your pleached hedge to thicken up, then you can do so by simply tieing in a few of the shoots.
If you find a bit of a gap in your hedge and want to give it a helping hand, you can simply take a couple of the long shoots, bend them down or around to fill the gap – they’re very pliable – and tie them in to a neighbouring branch with a piece of string. The side shoots that grow from these and grow outwards will then eventually fill that gap and it’ll make a nice thick hedge. Once this thickens out the branch it will now stay in that shape, so you can remove the string after about a year.
Where to Buy Darlac Tools
Make life a little easier for yourself by using the right garden tool for the job. You can find our Darlac products in store from your local garden centre. Find your local Darlac stockist here.
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