mature beech hedge

mature beech hedge

Postby Beech » Wed Mar 23, 2005 10:59 pm

If you renovate a mature beech hedge by cutting it back to the individual trunks how long will it take to recover and is there anything that can speed it up? :(

It's 'our' hedge renovated by a new neighbour with our consent because their side had been neglected and was growing some 5 ft into their garden, they wanted to tidy it up and reclaim a strip of garden. It's growing nicely at the top, but still bare lower down.
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Postby despair » Thu Mar 24, 2005 9:00 am

I believe you will find that if its been cut right back to the trunk it will not grow back again
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Postby Treeman » Fri Mar 25, 2005 10:59 am

That’s not strictly true.

Beech can regenerate quite well from “bare wood”

The bare areas will need as much light as possible. Shaded areas of trees tend not to carry much in the way of foliage. Keep the top trimmed for the next season at least. Cutting the top will give the bare areas the best chance to re generate.

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Postby despair » Sat Mar 26, 2005 12:39 am

Thanks Treeman

for the info on beech ........thats comforting to know ........
if only more people would grow things other than leylandii
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Postby Beech » Fri Apr 01, 2005 3:41 pm

Thankyou.

The hedge was cut back two years ago and shows little sign of doing anything much other than at the top, which has been trimmed back. The hedge runs east/west, their side faces north.

We have read that 'nicking' the trunk may persuade dormant buds to sprout. Is it worthwile trying this, and if so should these nicks be regularly spaced up the trunks?
Do we both need to be patient for a lot longer?
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Postby Treeman » Fri Apr 01, 2005 4:13 pm

Nicking the stem will simply damage it and aloe access for any pathogens.

The reason the tree isn’t making branches where you want them is because it doesn’t make sense to the tree. Low light values will not trigger the dormant buds combined with the upper parts of the tree suppressing any buds.

It might need some more drastic pruning to achieve your aims. Difficult to say without seeing the job though.


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Postby Alan Harris » Sat Apr 02, 2005 11:31 pm

Dear Beech

Beech tree like pH neutral well draining soils so if the soil is too clayey some additional watering would help and if the soil is chalky you could water it with a mild acidic mix (very weak Miracid).

The beech is known for the densenesss of the canopy. I doubt that that is having an effect yet but if the canopy does become umbrella like then a thinning pruning up to 25% or 30% may stimulate lower growth. In the meantime spring pruning of the upper ends of shoots will help the hedge to favour growth nearer the ground


Regards

Alan Harris
Alan is a consulting engineer specialising in subsidence, tree roots, soils and party wall surveying.
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Postby Beech » Mon Apr 04, 2005 2:05 pm

Thanks Treeman and Alan,

The water table is high with pure, solid, clay a few feet down. In winter the gardens are wet, but as it's a sloping site with functioning land drains the ground doesn't get waterlogged. This is a very hard water area and neither we nor our neighbour have ever considered watering this hedge, although we fed it particularly well last year and have layered well rotted garden compost along its, around 90 metres, length.

It's clearly a very old hedge, about 10 - 12 ft high, starting around 15ft from the houses. Close to the houses is a wooden fence and both houses have paved areas/patios with steps down onto lawn. The gardens slope down and away from the houses.

Selective pruning and thinning of our side of the hedge would take a very long time although we'll discuss reducing the height temporarily to reduce the thickness of the canopy and allow more light to reach through.

We're reluctant to do too much other than routine trimming to our (south-facing) side of the hedge, which is only about 18 inches deep/wide until the other side has recovered, because we'd understood that 'rejuvenating' old hedges should be done one side at a time to allow for recovery.

We're happy with the width/depth of our side and accept that the neighbour's north-facing side had clearly been neglected for some years. The centre of the hedge was bare and all the growth that was removed was on long straggly branches with a clump of shoots at the end.

Does anybody know if there is an acceptable or "normal" width/height ratio or proportion for each species used for hedging that relates to the growth of that species, or is it just a matter of personal choice and taste?
For example, should a beech hedge of 10-12 feet in height be around 3-4 feet wide and would the same proportion be right for, say, a yew hedge?
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Postby Alan Harris » Mon Apr 04, 2005 2:45 pm

Dear Beech

The effect of cutting new growth at the top of a plant redirects some of the energy into the lower parts of the plant. It is a common technique usd in Bonzai to get trees to thicken out lower down rather than simply widen out at the top. Best done at the start of the growing season.
All I can say is that Bonzai has some elements in common with hedge growth and if thickening out is an objective it is the best way I know. Beech trees also grow well in well drained moist soil so watering in the summer when the clay soil would otherwise dry out can only help.

These suggestions are because you want the hedge to recover. No action is required if you want nature to take its course more slowly.

Regards

Alan Harris
Alan is a consulting engineer specialising in subsidence, tree roots, soils and party wall surveying.
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