How to Plant Hornbeam Hedges


Hedges provide privacy, reduce noise from nearby traffic, mark boundaries along property lines, serve as barriers to keep children and pets in the yard and serve as windbreaks when they are grown. American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) is native to the United States and will grow almost everywhere in the country. It reaches a height and spread of 20 to 30 feet and grows a dense crown when planted in full sun. This densely foliated crown makes it ideal for use as a screen.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost or well-rotted manure
  • Bare-root or container hornbeam stock
  • Mulch
  • Pruning shears
  • Plant bare root or container stock. Soak bare-rooted trees in water for up to two hours before planting.

  • Dig a planting trench instead of individual holes. Dig the trench 20 inches deep and incorporate generous amounts of well-rotted manure or compost, especially if the soil is heavy clay.

  • Set the plants at a depth equal their container environment, or a couple inches higher if the soil is poorly draining. The plants should be spaced 9 to 18 inches apart.

  • Apply 2 to 4 inches of bark chips or other mulch on top of the soil to conserve moisture and keep down weeds.

  • Cut the plants back to within 6 to 8 inches of the ground immediately after planting. This will induce vigorous growth close to the ground and will encourage root development over foliage development.

  • Water the plants well during their first year, even during winter dormancy.

  • Keep the hedge weed and grass free for the first year.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the plants will be exposed to exceptionally windy conditions during their first winter, cover them with windbreak netting to keep them from drying out before their roots have established.
  • Deciduous hornbeams will be less useful as a screen in the winter when their leaves have dropped. Hornbeams, however, may hold on to many brown leaves into the winter.

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