- Page 1 Site is prepared and planted in Autumn 2008 (this page)
- Poplars removed 2009
- Pleached hedge extended – Aug 2014 (link)
- Henchman Hi-Step Platform for Training and Pruning of Tall Plants (link)
- Before/After Photo Gallery
Either side of the short drive to our house are half a dozen Lombardy Poplars. They have been there 45 years or so, and are 60′ tall – maybe more. They aren’t in keeping with a rural property, but the land around here is pretty flat, and I’m sure when the house was first built they did a good job of getting the wind to go up-and-over, rather than straight-through!
They represent a risk, being close to the house, and we’ve decided to replace them. On the side nearest the garden we are going to plant a pleached hedge of limes.
I’ve read what I can find to learn how to make a Pleached hedge, and come up rather blank.
Its clear that I should train the branches horizontally between the trees, and where they meet they will fuse. But I can’t find anything about how to train and grow the “width” of the hedge; I don’t just want a 2-dimensional hedge!
In February 2009 I had a few minutes to kill in London and wandering through Hyde Park I had a look at a Pleached Hedge there. With no leaves on it looked dreadful, so definitely a method to avoid. It looked like the trees used were established standards – i.e. the branches had an open style, and were not trained horizontally from the trunk. This meant that they had to be trained into a wall-face a couple of feet out from the stem, and the net effect was of a bundle of a dozen, or so, branches all tied together along each training cane. Hard to describe, but I took some pictures which hopefully tell the story better.
Note the large number of branches tied in to each horizontal cane (running along the length of the hedge, not across the width)
From a distance the bulk of these branches looked very off putting – nothing subtle about it AT ALL!
This is what I have found on my travels – trained in two dimensions from the trunk. I assume once it has pleached to its neighbours then it can be allowed to grow outwards and form a face.
Row of Lombardy Poplars to left of fence, and new Pleached Hedge will be to the right of the fence – so that it has enough room to grow towards the drive, and also we can mow a decent width of grass strip along the edge of the drive.
In early November 2008 I hired a JCB to clear out, and replant, a Leylandii hedge at the front of the house and took the opportunity to dig some planting holes for the Limes – 11 in all.
I suppose there are three ways to start a pleached hedge
- Small plants, grow them to standards, then start training
- Flat-head standards
- Trained plants
Trained plants get you a flying start, but cost about £200 each. Small plants are going to take too long. So that leaves Flat Head standards. These are normal 6/8 Std from which any side shoots coming out of the trunk at the wrong angle have been cut – so the head is basically in 2-dimensions, i.e. “flat”.
I bought plants from Ashridge Trees at a cost of about £30 each.
Planted the Limes; we put some well rotted grass clippings in the bottom, with some bone meal, and about 3′ of 2″ perforated draining pipe (bent into a right-angle at one end to come to the surface) which will help with irrigation for the next few Summers; a 3′ length of 2″ pipe will hold about 2 litres, and of course some will seep out during filling, so I reckon that will be enough, applied twice a week.
As is the way of things, the tree surgeons arrived in mid January 2009 to remove the Poplars. That makes their job a bit harder avoiding the Limes which are already planted. It was a beautiful frosty morning and the poplars were looking their best, which was all rather sad.
We felled the Lombardy Poplars on one side of the drive. They are tall, and don’t appear to have long to live, and in any case are an eyesore and are not indigenous. Although the Limes we have planted in their place are indigenous, I can’t really claim that Pleaching them is going to be!!
Typical! On the day they die they look better than they have ever done.
A handy pile of fire wood, but Poplar starts out soaking wet, and when it dries it turns to dust, so I will need to catch it, and burn it, on the day when it changes from Wet to Dust …
I have ties some canes between each tree to train the horizontal branches to. Actually, my canes are 2M long, and the trees are 2M apart, so I have put a 2M cane between each tree, and a 1M cane centred on each tree to join the 2M canes together. This makes the 2M canes more rigid (before the tips were being dragged up by the strength of the tree branches they were tied to, so they looked like a Rope draped between the trees; now I find that I can pull the shorter canes down (tying them to a longer branch on the tree, and the effect seems good. Plenty more to do yet though!
I need to get the stems absolutely vertical though, otherwise they will look terrible in years to come.
Pleach Hedge Extended – August 2014
In July 2013 we made a track to the barn, and removed one of the Pleach plants to make room (and “potted” it), and then had some building work done on the end of the house. In February 2014 I bought some more bareroot pleached hedge plants, in readiness for planting mid-Summer (they are only available in the bare root season), and we planted them out in August 2014. Here are the Before & After photos:
The tree nearest to the camera was the one removed from the gap in the original pleach hedge, where we have made a “track” to the barn
The details of managing the bare root plants, and planting them out with the risk of the rootball not being properly formed etc., are detailed in this article
Henchman Hi-Step Platform
I also splashed out on a Henchman Hi-Step Platform this year (well … “splashed out” was actually getting lucky on an eBay auction that finished at a price I could afford). Great bit of kit, and with the wheels attached easy to lower the frame, push along a bit, and stand upright again to attend to the next section to be trained or pruned.
An extension section can be added for more height, and the legs are telescopic for further height and/or adjustment, and then the pad-feet unscrew so that the platform can be set up level on uneven ground. It is remarkably stable and gives a feeling of great confidence when working high up, even if leaning right out on the safety bar.
The side stays can be undone for it to fold up like a step ladder, to store against a wall for example, or disassembled and stored “flat pack”
Added both the Wheeled Henchman 55 (Platform 5′ long, max 5′ high) and also the Wheeled Henchman 76 with extender (Platform 7′ long, max 6′ high / 10′ with height extender); photo below is the 7′ platform with the height extender fitter. Unbelievable how much time I saved this year cutting hedges, Henchman’s Blurb says that you can cut 20′ of hedge (that’s the 7′ platform plus “reaching out” 6’6″ on each end, before then moving the platform along); not sure my arms, nor hedge trimmer, are quite that long! but its not far short of that. A 50 yard hedge only requires moving the platform 8 times or so, and I clipped both front sides of the Long Walk, and the top, in half a day.
Before/After Photo Gallery