You can either dig a trench or notch plant. With either method, ground preparation is key to success of your hedgerow. The Countryside Stewardship Scheme requirements requires ground preparation of a 1.5m strip to avoid competition from other vegetation (any herbicide to the 1.5m strip being applied in August or September prior to planting) and preventing livestock and grazing animals from damaging the hedge by setting fencing at least 1.2m from the centre of the hedge, or, if there is a bank, as close to the base of the bank as possible. Whether you are on the Countryside Stewardship Scheme or not, this is very good advice and you should aim to get as close to this as possible.
If the planting line is within an arable field, you can drill the crop into the area where the hedging is to go (with winter barley, wheat or oats but not oilseed rape) and then later in the winter plant the new hedge directly into the cereal crop, which will grow up whilst protecting the young hedging plants during the following spring and summer from heat, drought and wind and the hedging plants will stretch to reach the light.
On heavy soils, plough along the planting line in the summer when it is dry and then keep the ploughed line clean with herbicide. The soil along the ploughed strip will break down to produce a better tilth for autumn planting.
Or you can use a black polythene sheet to minimise weeds. Mow off the weeds, lay the polythene sheet and dig in the edges of the sheet. When planting, life one side of the sheet and fold it back, plant the hedge and then cut off the top growth of each plant to about 6" above ground, relay the sheet, dig in the edge again and then cut slits and pull the plants through. This will prevent weed growth and conserve moisture.
Although double staggered row planting is the norm these days, single row planting is still very acceptable (as long as you use enough plants so they are close enough together) and was the standard style of planting when much of Britain's hedgerows were planted in the 18th and 19th centuries.
We strongly recommend the use of Rootgrow for all hedge planting. The granules need to be in contact with the roots (as much of the root as possible) so either sprinkle it over the roots immediately before planting or put some into the notch or trench and then sit the plant on top.
We recommend a trench that is the same depth as the roots but twice as wide. If you are planting in a double staggered row (recommended) then your two rows of plants should be up to 40cm apart (bearing in mind that a mature country hedge is likely to spread to a total width of 2m). The planting is done so that one row breaks joint (ie is staggered) with the other.
If the ground is soft and you are using plants with small roots (some species have smaller roots than others, and 1 yr old plants have smaller roots than 2 yr old plants) it is quick and easy to use notch planting. Put your spade into the ground to its full depth, then push it forwards as far as it will go and then pull it back towards yourself as far as it will go and that creates a notch that you can plant into. Make sure all the roots are facing downwards and are fully enclosed in the notch. If the roots are too big, make one notch and then position your space a couple of inches nearer towards yourself and make another notch and the soil between the two can usually be fairly easily lifted out to create a planting hole. It will do the plants no harm at all, and actually quite a lot of good, to trim the roots (by about 25%) so that they are easier to use with notch planting - root trimming encourages the development of more fine feeding roots which helps plants find nutrients and water.
Whichever method of planting you use, you must ensure that the soil is in good contact with the roots after planting so backfill thoroughly and then use your heel to firm in the soil around the plant. Water in if practical to do so.
It is recommended that you cut back all deciduous plants immediately after planting to about 40cm if they are taller than this and if they are shorter then just nip off the top inch or so. It is terribly difficult to bring yourself to do because we all want to see a little hedge as a reward for our efforts, but it is very good for root development and ultimately you'll get a better hedge with fewer losses and greater height and density in a quicker timeframe if you do this. On our farm, we do this when we are transplanting 1+0's to grow them on for a second season - it is best practise.
Please note that the spiral guards are usually stacked one inside another so you need to unravel them. Please wear gloves when handling them as edges can be sharp.
Spiral guards need to be supported by a 3ft cane which is pushed into the ground inside the guard. Position the cane close to the plant, push it into the ground about 30cm (12”) deep and then wrap the spiral around the cane and plant. The top of the cane and the top of the spiral should be approximately level. The bottom of the spiral needs to be in close contact with the soil so that voles, mice etc dont creep in to the nice warm environment and find a hedging plant there as a snack!
One of the benefits of spiral guards is that they protect the plant from herbicide spray so annual maintenance is much easier where guards have been used. They also act like a mini-greenhouse and can enhance growth rate.
It is advisable to maintain a 1m diameter weed free/grass free area around the base of all new trees for 5 years after planting.
Use the notch planting method as per planting hedging.