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Re-planting a hedge

 
Scarlet Hamilton
Posts: 28
Location: UK
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Has anyone planted a hedge, dug it up and replanted it before? If so was it a success?

I planted a hedge of Elaeagnus (umbellata and ebbingei) 2 years ago. The garden soil was pretty much non existent and the ground was full of mostly rocks, gravel, stone and junk. I did what I thought was best at the time and used what I had to hand. A big trench was dug where the hedge was to be planted. I’m against digging but in this process I learned where an ancient wall as well as pipes were located. I wasted a lot of time hand sieving what little soil there was and putting it back in the trench minus all the rocks and gravel because I thought they would make less room for the roots or make it harder for them. This was at the time when I was totally clueless and had just moved from the city to the country (excuses excuses). What I had to hand was a huge amount of ericaceous compost and so I put it all in the trench and had no idea what was about to happen…the plants are now sinking because compost decomposes - well duh!

These days I know the difference between soil and compost and would never plant a hedge like that again! I think sheet mulch was the answer but at least I’ve made my big mistake and got that out of the way early. This Winter I’d like to replant by carefully digging them out and planting into mounded up topsoil and rocks over the existing planting spot and sticking the plants in the mound. My theory is that the mound will sink over time but only to the level of the rest of the ground (not inches below it).

Do you think this is a sensible idea?
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Ah, the disappearing compost!
It's not just a newbie thing: I hear really experienced people telling new tree planters to "add compost to the hole" all the time.
Next thing you know, the tree's sunk up to it's knees.

A couple of things I'd do: roughly dig the new soil into the old compost mix.
Most of the organic matter's probably already gone, and I'd just add soil till the area was flat, or maybe slightly raised.
I find plants tend to struggle where there's been no integration of different soils etc.
I'm fine with a one-off digging, it's regular 'tilling' that gets to me
 
Scarlet Hamilton
Posts: 28
Location: UK
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I feel better now that you said experienced people do it

Do you mean roughly dig the new soil into the old compost mix after I've dug the plants out or with them in as they are?
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Scarlet Hamilton wrote:Do you mean roughly dig the new soil into the old compost mix after I've dug the plants out or with them in as they are?

Dig the plants out first.
 
Scarlet Hamilton
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Location: UK
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Really nervous about that. I'll probably prune them to make them more manageable.
 
Ravnor Chanur
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Is the sinking trench a problem, either for you or for the shrubs? If the plants are doing well (e.g. not waterlogged or rotting at the base from being too wet), this seems like a lot of work for not much benefit.

I've successfully transplanted trees and shrubs after a year or two in the ground before, but there's always a loss of roots, particularly on plants with a long taproot, and it will slow their growth until they reestablish roots.
 
Cris Bessette
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I've dug up small juniper / red ceder trees around my property and transplanted them, they make great hedges.
Almost 100% of the transplants have taken and started growing. They grow about 2-4 feet a year.

I guess transplantability depends a lot on the type of root system- bushes, trees with a heavy tap root transplant the worst.

 
Leila Rich
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Scarlet Hamilton wrote:Really nervous about that. I'll probably prune them to make them more manageable.
I'm not familiar with Eleagnus, but I get the impression they're tough plants.
Pruning sounds like a good idea; aside from being more manageable, it'll balance out the roots you'll lose from digging them out.
One thing: I don't know if you are planning to do it before spring, but if you get freezing temperatures over winter, I'd probably wait.
Ravnor Chanur wrote:Is the sinking trench a problem, either for you or for the shrubs? If the plants are doing well (e.g. not waterlogged or rotting at the base from being too wet), this seems like a lot of work for not much benefit
I avoid planting all woody plants deep, as I will probably end up with suckers or collar rot.
 
Scarlet Hamilton
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Location: UK
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Thank you all for the posts!

For the past 4 months I've been using an organic seaweed spray on them. I came across that when working out why the hedge plants look so ill (yellow and brown with curled up leaves with the occasional red spots!). I figured this must be lime induced chlorosis even though the plants are suited to alkaline soil (which is what it is around here), they are probably deficient in nutrients because of what they were planted in. The main ones being magnesium, calcium and iron which are in the seaweed. Ever since starting a strict regime of 15ml seaweed to 5 litres of water applied as a foliar spray every Tuesday just before it gets dark (yes that strict), the plants started producing healthy looking leaves and became less ill looking. By the time it gets to the next spray day they are looking ill again. I think this spray contains all the nutrients they get and it seems like they're dependant on it so as soon as I get some soil in there the better.

It freezes here in UK zone 7. My order of 18 trees and some other plants will arrive in December when it's likely to be frozen and I'm planting them all by myself *brrrrrr*. I think the poor hedge will have to be replanted at the end of December when dormant. I would wait a few months more but I'm not sure if that would be good for them.

The seaweed is supposed to be applied during the growing months and I'm not sure if this applies to this situation. At the same time as providing nutrients it is making them grow extra fast and be healthy but the down side is that they are becoming bigger and less manageable for replanting. Do you think I should stop spraying them this month or continue?

Elaeagnus is supposed to be invasive in some parts of the US so hopefully they will be vigorous enough to make a full recovery!
 
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