How to Plant Bare Root Hedging – Advice & Tips

Bare root hedging is a very popular way of planting hedging as it has several advantages over root ball hedging. Bare root hedging allows gardeners to utilise the colder months because bare root hedging is planted during the winter, so it’s ready to begin its life cycle in spring. Because the bare root hedging lacks the root ball typical with other hedging, it is also easier to lift and carry into place making it particularly valuable to elderly gardeners!

Planting bare root hedging also has cost advantages with bare root hedge varieties tending to be cheaper than their root ball counterparts. You may be thinking that bare root hedging is easy breezy, and you would be right to a large extent, but there are some things that you need to know when planting bare root hedge.

Quick Recap – What is Bare Root Hedging?

Bare root hedges are hedging plants without the root ball (soil and roots) and instead, the plants have bare roots. Bare root hedging is dormant and planted during the winter ready for the warmer months when the plant wakes up and becomes active.

Step 1 – Preparing Roots

When buying bare root hedging the key consideration should be how quickly you’re able to plant them. This is because bare root hedging doesn’t have the luxury of soil protection around the roots when the plants are delivered/stored. One of the most common pitfalls with planting bare root hedges is that the plants can spoil very easily if the roots dry out or overheat. Gardeners can make the mistake of leaving the roots exposed while they’re digging the hole or trench – or worse, while they are making a cup of tea.

The moment you get your bare root hedging delivered, unwrap them and soak them in a bucket of water. This keeps the root network at a healthy temperature and damp. Then you can move on to digging after making sure your bare root hedging is happy in its new watery home.

Step 2 – Clearing and Digging

The best methods tend to be the simplest and a string line is ideal for mapping out your hedge trench. Simply stake the line at one end and unravel to the desired length, pull tort, and then stake at the opposite end. This will ensure a nice straight line between the two points. Leave about 1ft of space between your string and any existing structure or foundations as although digging your trench might not upset the foundations, the roots may do as they establish themselves.

Now it is time for the hard part – digging. Thankfully, most hedging doesn’t require much excavation, and typically digging down the distance of the extended roots is plenty. This will leave you with a trench that is normally between 1ft and 2ft deep. You can check how deep a plant had already been growing by finding the line of dirt on the roots/stem.

Step 3 – Spacing and Planting

Once your trench has been dug you can now retrieve your bare root hedge
plants from their watery bucket and place them one plant at a time into your trench. Different types of hedge will need different amounts of spacing, so it is important to check any planting label or look up the required spacing before planting. Plant too close together and you risk the hedge becoming unhealthy because the roots are competing for nutrients, too far apart and you will likely have gaps in your hedge.

Laurel and Leylandii hedges ideally like to be planted in a row with at least 2ft between them. But be careful as there isn’t a universal golden rule and some hedges do grow better with more space. Once you’re sure that you have spaced your bare root hedge correctly, carefully cover over your roots so that the plants are upright and then fill in your trench.

Step 4 – Bare Root Hedge Maintenance

One of the wonderful features of bare root hedging is that it is low maintenance. Once planted the hedge will establish itself as it leaves its dormant phase in the spring months. The dormant phase is often cited as being from November to April but for most parts of the UK, planting beyond February is not advisable because the weather tends to be too warm.

Unlike root ball hedges, you won’t need to worry about watering the hedge to help it establish itself, although a little bit of extra watering can’t go amiss. Providing the hedging has been looked after during the planting process, the hedge should grow healthily with little to no initial help. Beyond that, it is just a matter of pruning to encourage further growth.

FAQs, Advice, and Tips for Planting Bare Root Hedge

Feel like we have missed something in our main article? Perhaps you have a
specific question about planting bare root hedging? This FAQ section should help no end!

What time of year is best for planting bare root hedging?

Bare root hedging should be planted during the colder winter months, November to February, because the hedging is planted when it is dormant. This means initially the plants will remain dormant in the ground before becoming active in the warmer spring months.

What types of plants can I use for bare root hedging?

Most common hedge varieties are supplied as either bare root hedging and root ball hedging. At Gardeners Dream, we have a dedicated bare root hedging section where you can find hedge varieties that are sent to you for planting bare root hedging.

How far apart should I plant bare root hedges?

Typically, between 2ft and 3ft, although this is dependent on the type of hedge Most plant labels should indicate the correct spacing for that variety.

When should I buy bare root hedging?

You should buy bare root hedging at the time that you’re looking to plant your hedge – as long as it is during the dormant phase of the plant. This can be from any time between November and April and is also dependent on the weather conditions in your area.

Should I soak bare root hedges?

For any time the hedging is outside of the ground and not in the wrapping it is supplied in for delivery, the bare roots should be soaked. Leaving roots out can cause them to dry up, overheat and ultimately die.

What different root types are available for hedges?

There are several ways hedge plants can be supplied to you. The two most common are bare root and root ball. You may also come across potted hedges and instant hedges but these are much less common.

How long can I store bare root hedges?

It is advisable not to store bare root hedges, instead you should plant them as soon as you receive them. Storing bare root hedges for any amount of time increases the risk to the health of the plant.

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