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shrubs with different coloured leaves

Maintenance Jobs for your October Garden

Plan ahead for planting bare-root trees and shrubs next month. If you want long-lasting plants it’s worth preparing the ground well. If you are planning a border of shrubs or a new hedge or trees, dig over the entire area. It may seem a lot of work but will be worth it in the long term. Remove all the roots of perennial weeds (these are the ones that re-appear each year); if you leave even a tiny portion of root behind the little blighters grow again. Dig in plenty of organic matter; this could be well-rotted manure or compost.

man digging in the garden with a garden fork

The choice of hedging plants is greatest in the dormant season when bare root plants become available; they are lifted bare-root from the field, making them better value than container grown specimens. Popular hedge choices all come with pros and cons. Think hard before deciding which will suit your needs.

If you would like a formal, evergreen hedge that can be clipped to keep it within its bounds, consider yew (taxus baccata) before planting the ubiquitous Leyand Cypruss, which can rapidly become a nuisance to you and your neighbour. If the ground is properly prepared, yew is not as slow growing as is generally believed and it makes an excellent dark green backdrop to a garden, although should not be planted within reach of livestock.

shaped green hedges

For a less formal, glossy, evergreen hedge, laurel is a popular choice. The disadvantage is that it is time consuming to prune in summer with secateurs because using hedge trimmers leaves unsightly, ragged edges.

bright green leaves poking through a metal gate

For a shady spot, holly is a good choice – but it is slow growing and requires formative pruning to ensure dense growth.

green and yellow holly leaves

There is no need to stick to green for hedging. Copper or purple-leaved beech saplings offer an unusual alternative to the common beech; for a tapestry of colour, try planting alternate purple and green.

hedges with leaves in shades of green red and yellow

If you garden on clay soil, hornbeam is generally more reliable than beech and retains its dead leaves throughout winter, creating a good screen or windbreak.

a hedge with bright green leaves

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) is considered a field hedge but in fact can be clipped closely to create an excellent dense screen – an effective thorny barrier against animals or people. In spring it is transformed into a foam of fragrant, white blossom and the attractive red berries in autumn are virtually guaranteed to attract nesting birds into your garden.

red berries and green leaves


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