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A Guide to Planting Density

A Guide to Planting Density


Planting Density Introduction

Whether you're planting with bare root plants, cell grown, pot grown or root balls, you need to think about the planting density. There are a number of factors to consider:

1. How many you can afford

Even very low density planting will eventually form a decent hedge. If you can't afford to go with good density, don't worry about it too much - you'll just need to wait a couple of extra seasons - and you'll need to accept some gappiness at ground level

2. How long you are prepared to wait to get good density

Our recommendations are designed so that the plants will touch each other after the first full growing season. If that's not quick enough, you'll need to go for high density planting; if you can wait a bit longer, then you could go with low density planting and you could plant even less densely than our lower recommendation.

3. Whether it is important to have good density at ground level

If this is important to you, then you need to plant high density and use relatively small plants.

4. How tall you want the hedge to grow

The taller the hedge needs to be, the more soil, minerals and water each plant will need so you need to go with low density planting.

5. Whether they all need to be the same height when you plant them

We quite often recommend to customers who need a tall effect but don't have sufficient budget, to plant each alternate plant at the desired height and infill in between with smaller plants which catch up remarkably quickly.

Our recommendations assume that most people will want quite a quick effect so we think we recommend towards the higher end of normal planting density but please don't worry about ordering less than these suggestions - and you can always order a few more or infill the following year with small plants. Some of our competitors recommend very low quantities of plants per metre so it makes them look less expensive - but what's the point in having a dot of a little plant every metre when you wanted a hedge!

Pot Grown Plants

2 litre pots - a good density is 4 per metre but you can plant as few as 2 per metre and you can fit in 6 (in a double staggered row).

5 litre pots - a good density is 3 per metre but 2 is perfectly acceptable and you can fit in 4.

10 litre pots - a good density is 2 per metre but 1 is perfectly acceptable and you can fit in 3 (just!).

For other pot sizes, just use the above guide to estimate or phone us for advice. It's worth bearing in mind, particularly for tall expensive plants, that you don't need to stick to an exact number. There's nothing wrong with planting 1.5 per metre (2 plants every 3m) if you can't decide between 1 or 2 plants per metre.

Cell Grown Plants (Plug Plants)

Irrespective of the species, these plants are all roughly the same size grown in very similar cells (mini pots) so we have a standard recommendation of 4 in a single row and 6 in a double staggered row.

Box plants are often planted more densely and because they are generally kept as low hedging, that gives the block effect more quickly and the plants are fine even at very high density because they never need to grow tall.

Bare Root Plants

Many of the bare root plants are deciduous and to give a good hedge, these are generally planted in a double staggered row so our recommendations are:

5 to 7 plants per metre for small plants (under 1.2m)

3 to 5 plants per metre for medium height plants (1.2m to 1.5m)

3 plants per metre for tall plants (over 1.5m)

The evergreen versions of bare root (Yew, Laurel, Box and Privet) are generally planted a little less densely than the deciduous version - but a lot depends on the height the hedge is to be eventually - the taller the hedge, the less densely you should plant.

Root Balled Plants

These tend to be big evergreens and customers tend to be looking for a fairly quick effect. Our recommendations (shown against each of the plants on the website) assume this, but again you can increase this a little or reduce it a little - or reduce it considerably if necessary.

You do need to be careful with big evergreens not to plant too densely because they have a large root and leaf structure to maintain so they need plenty of good soil around each root. Where we show a planting density of 3 per metre (for Buxus for example) please bear in mind that you'll get a better effect than the same height of plant in a 5L pot which is also recommended at 3 per metre - just because these are bushier plants so they'll give you a better start.

Particularly with root balls, if you need advice on planting density, please call us on 01257 263 873.

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