Hedges can be the most beautiful and useful plantings that gardeners could ever turn their hands to. But, they can also be the most infuriating.
Why? For a hedge to work well it relies on teamwork. Every plant in the hedge needs to pull its own weight and grow at the same rate that all the others do. If they don’t, you end up with a hedge that looks incomplete.
When we arrived back from our weekend away we discovered that some drunken louts had decided to try and jump our lavender hedge, and unfortunately they failed.
Rather than break a few twigs they left a complete hole in the hedge that will take years to rectify. And this is the problem with hedges. It only takes a single plant to throw the whole hedge into disarray. One minute the hedge looks fantastic – the next it looks like a 6 year-old’s row of pearlers when they lost their first tooth.
Is there a way to fix hedges? Sure. If you’re willing to take the time.
How To Repair Hedges
Here are a few options;
- Leave it to grow – most fast-growing hedges can repair themselves within a season or two if the damage isn’t too great. The plants either side of the hole should be able to knit themselves together and cover the gaping void.
The same may happen with slow-growing hedges but the time needed to repair themselves may be considerably longer.
- Add a substitute plant – this may also be a viable option and would be more successful for those with slow-growing hedges. One of our hedges is grown from planting African Box and while we bought them as small plants because of their cost (A$8 each plant) if we had to substitute one we would pay the dollars for a mature plant. This would considerably cut down the time needed to repair itself.
- Shape your hedges – if your hedge has just been trimmed or allowed to grow naturally in the past, consider shaping it to utilise the hole that’s been created. You could fashion it as a topiary hedge or even be creative by displaying another plant through it.
Turn a disaster into a positive and find ways to use your hedge that you wouldn’t normally have considered before.
- Add a feature – a hole in your hedge will obviously open up a new dimension in your garden so why not try and make it a feature? Rather than try and regrow the plant that has been damaged install a garden feature. A bird bath, sundial, gnome (if you have to!) or any sort of garden whimsy could turn your hedge problem into an opportunity to be creative.
- Reconfigure your hedge – up until the point of disaster you were probably only growing one type of plant in your hedges. Why not start replacing some of your plants with another species to mix your hedge up? Use a random pattern or try something more formal and remake the hedge. Try a different foliage tone, or leaf texture. Maybe even add some flowering or non-flowering plants. You could even introduce some standard plants and allow the hedge to grow around them.
- Start again – this is certainly not the greatest option for repairing a hedge. Hedges, even fast-growing ones, take a while to grow so starting again can be more demoralizing than helpful for most gardeners. However, we have been considering changing this hedge for some time as we’ve found it has just taken up more room than we anticipated it would. So in effect, this act of random vandalism may just turn out to be a God-send.
Hedges can be more maintenance than they’re worth some times but if you’re willing to persevere they can easily become the ‘thing’ that sets your garden apart.
Photo source: net_efekt