NOT surprisingly, during a recession investors do a lot of hedging - insuring themselves against the risk of financial catastrophe.
But without keeping a close eye on events and making adjustments when necessary, they might still lose their shirt.
In much the same way, a garden hedge offers protection and privacy. And without proper maintenance your investment in it can also run into trouble, not least of which with the neighbours if it encroaches on their land.
Besides privacy, a well-chosen garden hedge enhances a garden in other ways - protection from the wind, hides unsightly views, and reduces traffic noise, besides providing a contrasting backdrop for flowering plants.
Even a low hedge defines the edge of a property in a pleasing but inconspicuous way although when planting make sure it is entirely on your side of the property.
This is because neighbours have the right to cut off any growth that encroaches on theirs.
Before selecting a hedging plant, take account of the type of soil and position, also its primary purpose, such as whether it's there to provide protection and privacy or is merely ornamental. A closely clipped formal hedge is best between front garden and pavement. Other species thrive on lighter trimming, which allows them to display flowers and berries that would otherwise have been lost.
Deciduous hedges such as beech and hornbeam retain their tinted foliage throughout the colder months whereas evergreens, especially conifers, provide a dense, if not gloomy screen all winter.
Container-grown hedging plants,
Johnhumphries1@yahoo.co.uk whether deciduous or evergreen, may be planted at any time of the year when soil and weather conditions allow. But they are the most expensive. Cheaper bare-rooted evergreens may be planted until the end of November after which they are best left until the following April or May.
Deciduous bare-rooted plants are usually available during the autumn for planting throughout the dormant season, October until the end of March.
What they all have in common is that they grow, often rapidly! One moment 3ft saplings, the next a line of 6ft giants for whom the sky's the limit. If the height of the hedge is to be restricted, then remove the leading shoot a little before it reaches the required height, say at 5ft 6in for a hedge intended to stop at 6ft.
When trimming the sides of a formal hedge shape them so that the base is always a little wider than the top. On no account allow the top to become wider than the base. This makes the hedge top heavy causing it to open up. Deciduous hedges will thicken up at the base if the leader is removed at an early stage and side growth shortened.
The mechanical trimmer is the best for pruning formal hedges but the secateurs the most suitable tool for conifers and informal hedges because it allows for more precise cutting. Hand shears are quicker for yew, privet, and honeysuckle.
Informal flowering hedges are pruned immediately after flowering. In July, prune or trim box, hornbeam, conifers, common laurel, holly, and Spanish gorse.
Some slow-growing hedges, notably hornbeam, box, and holly, will not become unduly untidy if trimmed only once a year towards the end of July..
TV PREVIEWS During hot weather spray newly-planted conifer hedges with water at regular intervals, adding a foliar feed to encourage growth.
With care, certain weed killers can be used around hedging plants.
can see along the length of the cut, which avoids creating bumps and hollows.
Keep wall-trained fruit, especially stone fruit, well-watered during fruit set and fruit development.
Use rainwater or recycled water wherever possible.
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