Beech Hedge Planting Guide – Everything You Need to Know

It is little wonder that Beech Hedges (Fagus Sylvatica) are among the most popular hedge types in the UK. They are native to the British Isles and they transition with the seasons, cycling through bright, vibrant and energetic colours as the year progresses.

From light and fresh green foliage in the spring to darker leaves that invite depth in the summer. And then, in autumn, the real magic happens as the leaves turn from deep green to fiery oranges and copper browns. Even more enticing, is that a quick prune in August or September can be enough to keep the Beech hedge in leaf throughout the colder winter months.

Here are some of our favourite things about the beech hedge;

  • Relatively fast growing with up to 2ft of growth each year.
  • Happy grower that does well in most UK gardens.
  • Attractive all year round with variety not attained by evergreen hedges.

This guide will give you all you need to know about how to plant a beech hedge, as well as some tips and tricks along the way to get the best from this already attractive hedge.

Beech Hedge - Gardeners Dream
Beech Hedge

How to Plant a Beech Hedge in Simple Steps

Planting a beech hedge is pretty straightforward, although there are a few common pitfalls to avoid along the way. This step by step guide will tell you how to plant a beech hedge in simple and easy to follow steps. So, let’s get to it!

Step 1 – Best Time to Plant Beech Hedge in the UK

A common misconception with hedging is that it can only be planted from November to April (typically when a hedge plant is dormant). This is true of bare root hedging which does really need to go into the ground during the winter.

Other beech hedging types though can be planted at other times, example, root ball plants do well from October to April and pot grown Beech hedging can be planted at any time of the year. The key is to match up your planting agenda with how you buy your Beech hedging. If you want to plant in the summer, opt for a pot grown Beech.

There are slight differences in growth rates but over a full growing year they’re so minimal that it really shouldn’t be a concern. Pick out the hedge plant type that fits your gardening needs and don’t get overly worried about the best time to plant beech hedge plants.

Step 2 – Trench vs Slit Planting

Before we get onto the raging gardening debate of trench planting vs slit planting, it is important to mention the first big pitfall that people experience with planting Beech hedging. Beech hedging is a resilient and robust hedging type that can easily live for a hundred years without too much care or maintenance. This means that before you actually dig your hole, check that the place you’re planting is free from foundations or buildings and make sure there is plenty of room for the hedge to grow and establish itself – it may look small in bare root form but it will grow and spread quickly.

Trench planting – if you want the Beech hedge to establish itself quickly and grow at an initially faster rate then trench planting is for you. It takes considerably more effort to dig a trench compared to slit planting, but you can fill in the trench with plenty of fertile soil or manure to give your trench planted Beech a healthy head start.

Slit planting – if you don’t want to have the hassle of digging a trench and a few centimetres of initial growth doesn’t concern you, then slit planting is an easy way to get your Beech hedge planted with no fuss. Slit planting is also good when digging a trench isn’t practical, especially if planting a hedge into harder soils.

Step 3 – Beech Hedge Care and Maintenance

By now you should have picked the hedge plant that suits the time you’re looking to plant your Beech hedge as well as planted your hedge in either a trench or slits. Now, what? You might be asking.

Well, the good news is that Beech hedging only really needs a bit of attention throughout the year and grows well providing it is pruned intermittently. The other two things that gardeners forget to do but are really important is to water your beech hedge (especially during the summer) and weed around the base of the hedge. Both these additional steps can keep a beech hedge much healthier and better looking.

Beech Hedge
Beech Hedge

FAQs When Planting a Beech Hedge in the UK

Use our FAQs to brush up on your beech planting knowledge and find out answers to anything we have missed above.

When to plant beech hedge?

The best time to plant a beech hedge is the time when it is convenient for you to do. Planting the hedge at your best time means that you can concentrate on planting it correctly. If you want to plant at odd times of the year (summer) then ensure you buy pot grown hedging plants to do this.

How to plant bare root beech hedge?

Bare root hedging has no soil root ball so it is best to get bare root hedging planted as soon as it is delivered in order to keep those roots healthy. Don’t let bare root hedge roots dry out and keep them in water until you’re ready to plant.

How far apart should I plant beech hedges?

This depends on the size of the plant as it is being planted. Typically, it is best to plant beech at around 30cms from one plant to the next. With bigger more established plants (pot-grown) extra space may be needed.

How quickly do beech hedges grow?

Beech hedges grow between 1ft and 2ft each year and rely on plenty of water and weeding for maximum growth. It is most reasonable to expect about 1ft of growth with normal attention.

How should I prune beech hedges?

It is best to prune a beech hedge after each flush and also to prevent leaf dropping over winter, a September prune is also advisable.

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