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Conifer Hedging & Forestry (8)

Specimen Conifers and Ginkgo (17)

Willow and Poplar (5)

Broadleaved Hedging & Forestry (60)

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Planting Sundries (14)

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We know that our customers have some (and most a great deal) of experience of gardening and horticulture. For those who need a basic guide, a good point of reference is "The Tree and Shrub Expert" by Dr. D.G.Hessayon. Many horticulturalists however would not agree with his general advice to prune hard all hedge species when planting. All trees leave the nursery in good health and experience has shown that in a normal season over 95% of the trees thrive. It should be noted that all living things including trees can die for various reasons and this is a risk which all experienced tree planters recognise and of which all new planters should be aware. Customers must accept that risk.

The essentials of successful planting can be summarised as follows:
Never leave roots exposed to the air. Do not allow roots to dry out, even on a moist or rainy day conditions can suddenly change. If roots become dry, immerse in water, but only for a few moments.

Do not allow roots to be waterlogged. Young trees cannot tolerate this except for short periods. By heeling down heavy soils onto roots, it is possible to kill a tree. Apart from the risk of physical damage to the roots, air is likely to be completely excluded from the root zone.

Do not allow trees to be rocked by the wind. Deciduous trees smaller than about 3ft. do not normally need staking but conifers even 12" high may need a small cane to hold them steady in the first season in a windy situation. Newly transplanted conifers can be desiccated by cold, dry winds. Provide protection especially for bare-rooted conifers of sensitive species such as: Taxus, Sequoia, Sequoiadendron, Thuja, Pinus nigra, Tsuga for the first season.

Prepare a 3ft. diameter weed free area before planting trees or hedges by digging, herbicide spraying, or by covering the planting areas some weeks in advance with black polythene sheet. “Double digging" with removal or burying of weeds and grass is a good alternative for garden hedges or where small numbers of trees allow the hard work involved. Do not allow weeds to retard growth of trees. Grass growing within two feet of a newly planted tree or hedge plant can slow rate of growth by a factor of 3 or more. If grass growth is not prevented during the first seasons after planting, the soil is likely to become dry and it is quite probable that the tree or hedge plants will die. Prevent weed growth, especially grasses, by mulching, herbicides or shallow hoeing.

Do not plant too late in the season. Most trees and hedging should ideally be planted by mid February. This applies especially to Quickthorn, Blackthorn and several other natural countryside hedge species.


Rural The normal method of planting is as a double staggered row 4 plants to the metre. To make a hedge stock- proof a good rule of thumb is to include at least 50% thorn; Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn) or Prunus spinosa (Blackthorn). Commonly used species to make up the hedge are: Field maple, Common dogwood, Hazel, Spindle, Holly, Native wild privet, Crab apple, Common buckthorn, Dog rose, Pussy willow, Viburnum lantana and Viburnum opulus. You could consider Beech, Hornbeam, Oak, Lime and Ash. Beech hedging keeps its attractive withered leaves through winter but is slow to establish in the first year or two and suffers from water damage. Hornbeam offers similar attributes as beech but is faster growing and easier to establish especially on heavy or wet soils. New hedges require animal protection for around 5 years. We shall be pleased to advise on a suitable natural mix of species for your area and how to protect these appropriately.

Conifer/Ornamental Spacing depends on intended ultimate height i.e. 6ft high = 24” single row spacing. 10ft. high = 4ft. single row spacing. Leyland cypress (Leylandii) make an excellent uniform hedge if regularly maintained; Thuja plicata ‘Atrovirens’ (Western Red Cedar) quickly forms a good dense evergreen hedge. Yew should only be planted where the drainage is good and the plants cannot become waterlogged. Special care should be taken not to over water new yew hedges, especially on heavy soils.

Impact of Weeds and Grass To ensure good growth, a strip of ground at least 18" wide on either side should be kept grass and weed-free. This is most important in the first year but should be maintained for the first three years. Grass/weeds will reduce the growth rate of the hedge or may cause the plants to die. Hedges are often planted much later in the season than is desirable, this is usually detrimental to the successful establishment and growth. Most of the common native hedge species should be planted by mid or late February, by which time the roots are beginning to grow. Arguably even planting in non-ideal conditions is better than to plant too late in the season.

Filling Gaps in Existing Hedges It is difficult to use young trees in existing hedgerows to thicken or fill gaps because the adjacent bushes usually compete for moisture and can shade the newly planted trees. Further issues arise from weeds, which are difficult to eliminate in most hedges. To achieve best results the following procedure is recommended:
1. Cut back very hard the existing hedging
2. Dig out weeds and competing roots from adjacent hedging using a spade or a J.C.B. for large jobs
3. Plant the most robust plants possible and mulch and keep well watered for the first year or two.
Where new "fillers" are shaded, use shade tolerant species such as Yew, Holly, Box, Laurel, Wild privet, Hazel, Beech, Hornbeam, Hawthorn, and Field Maple. Other shade tolerant conifers are Thuja plicata and Tsuga heterophylla.
Robust plants - can be achieved by growing on young plants at about 18" spacing in a corner of the vegetable garden for 2 or 3 years. These should then be carefully dug between late November or early February with a sharp spade to transplant the tree with as large a lump of soil as can be lifted. GROWING WILLOW AND POPLAR FROM CUTTINGS AND SETS

Most willows and some poplars can easily be grown from unrooted hardwood cuttings. Often trees raised in this way in their final planting positions grow better and faster than when already rooted young trees are planted. Our cuttings are taken from our own specially nurtured mother plants to produce good cutting material.

Cuttings and sets can be planted at any time between leaf-fall and the time when new leaves emerge, normally between November and late March, although the optimum time is probably from December to early March. Cuttings are normally 9"-12" long and 0.2"-0.7" diameter and sets are around 30"-60" long.

The cuttings or sets of all but the slow-growing varieties are best planted in their final growing positions, since in average conditions a minimum of 3' to 4' of growth can be expected by the autumn following planting. When planting, insert vertically into the soil 6"-8" of the cutting or 15" or more of the sets. If the soil is too compact or dry, it can be dug over then firmed down or a pilot hole can be made using bamboo cane. The pilot hole must be smaller than the cutting so that it makes firm contact with the soil.

Take care to insert the cuttings the right way up. No hormone rooting powders are necessary. Ensure there is at least a 2ft. weeds and grass-free circle around each cutting or set for the first growing season to ensure the plants thrive. An excellent way of achieving this is to plant the cuttings or sets through 4ft. pieces of black polythene. Planted in this way, assuming adequate moisture for growth, some poplar and willow cuttings will grow 6-8ft. shoots in the first season.

For forestry and woodland planting the normal spacing is about 2.1 metres or approx. 7ft. The aim in such situations is to encourage vertical growth and small side branches to produce straight timber with small knots. Planting at this density also enables selective thinning after a number of years to leave the best potential timber trees to grow on. A similar spacing is usually adopted for amenity planting because it allows for some losses. It also creates a favourable microclimate in which the trees can grow and results in suppression of competing weeds. An added advantage of this fairly close spacing is that it looks appropriate to the sizes of the trees in the early years.

In ornamental planting schemes, as the trees grow they should be thinned to allow the favoured specimens to develop broader more natural crowns. In establishing new arboreta, similar close spacing strategies are often adopted, and prove most successful. The "special" trees are planted within a matrix of common trees, which are gradually removed as the special trees grow and require more space.

TREE SPACING Approximate number of trees required for square spacing Spacing metric Trees per hectare Spacing Imperial Trees per acre 1.0m 10,000 3ft. 5,000 1.2m 7,000 4ft. 2,700 1.5m 4,500 5ft. 1,700 1.7m 3,500 6ft. 1,200 2.0m 2,500 7ft. 900 2.1m 2,250 8ft. 700 3.0m 1,100 10ft. 450

Individually protecting trees from deer has obvious financial drawbacks. Five feet high plastic mesh guards can be used but represents both an expensive and fiddly option, whilst protection via tall translucent plastic tubes causes accelerated and floppy growth.

In most cases it’s arguably better and usually cheaper to enclose the whole planting area with a deer proof fence. Although 6 or 7 ft high mesh deer fencing is the traditional technique applied, a much cheaper alternative is to use standard C/8/80/15 cattle fencing topped with 3 or 4 plain galvanised wires to give an overall height of about 6ft 6". Instead of the cattle fencing rabbit netting can be used to create a fence that is both rabbit and deer proof. We have found such fences an effective device against fallow deer here at Mount Pleasant.

To guard individual trees we use circles of C/8/80/15 about 1-1.5 metres in diameter, these circles are fairly rigid and can be free-standing or held in position with a light stake. A better size of fencing for these individual guards is the taller 10/120/15 but this is much more expensive and difficult to obtain.

Most deer damage is caused by fraying (rubbing with their antlers). Often their method of destruction of coniferous species. Broadleaves at specific risk include; Malus, Sorbus, Walnut, Poplar and Willow although they will cause some damage to every other species too. Deer damage to trees by fraying is at its worst from September to April, with less during the summer months.

A species particularly vulnerable to damage by voles, mice and rabbits. Rabbits will eat the stems and leaves of young holly in preference to almost any other plant. Voles will eat the bark from near ground level and often kill young holly trees. The young trees are vulnerable to serious damage until the base diameter is about one inch. Guarding to prevent such damage is easily achieved by planting inside 60cm plastic mesh tree guards or shrub shelters, which we offer in our catalogue. These guards also protect young holly from desiccation by the wind, which they can be very vulnerable to during the first season of planting. After one or two seasons when the plants have grown to 3ft. or so it is best to take off the tubes and replace them with spiral guards.


Almost every year since the late 1980’s we have experienced periods of unusual or extreme weather. Much of this now acknowledged to be due to carbon dioxide emissions resulting from human actions. The unpredictable and very varied weather presents challenges to tree planters. Selection of species well suited to the site and soil conditions is vital and special planting and ground preparation techniques may be necessary to cope with both droughts and waterlogging.

Some of the trees that have tolerated the extreme conditions and grown very well are oaks, ash, pear, walnut, bird cherry, native black poplar, Sorbus torminalis, aspen, field maple, Italian alder, hornbeam, and ‘Wellingtonia’.

Adequate mulching and weed control is vital and special planting techniques should be considered on ground that is prone to drought. One of the best methods to allow simple and effective watering is to introduce a layer of pea-sized (or smaller) gravel or sand about 12" below the soil surface. The gravel/sand layer should be about 2" deep and 2ft in diameter for a 6-7ft high tree. One or two pipes ideally about 2" diameter should be placed vertically in the soil, with the tops sticking out of the soil by about 2" and with the bottoms in the gravel/sand zone. Watering weekly during dry periods with 10-20 gallons through these pipes will enable reliable establishment.

When planting in areas that are likely to become waterlogged, ensuring effective drainage by pipes or ditches should be the first consideration, possibly together with incorporation of large quantities of gravel or gritty sand into the soil. If that is not practical, then creation of ridges or mounds on which to plant the trees or hedging may need to be undertaken. Avoid planting trees like yew, sweet chestnut and beech, which are very susceptible to water-logging damage in situations prone to this

Mount Pleasant Trees
Rockhampton, Berkeley, Gloucestershire, GL13 9DU.
Telephone: 01454 260 348

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Mount Pleasant Trees - Rockhampton, Berkeley, Gloucestershire, GL13 9DU. Telephone: 01454 260 348 - Email: