We are having a nice warm autumn with just a few cold nights. If you are thinking about planting a hawthorn hedge this winter, now is a really good time to strike a blow for the good guys and go after a few weeds. Perennial weeds like bindweed, docks, thistles, dandelions, ground elder and the rest behave just like any other deciduous plant as they head towards winter and dormancy (which is the plant equivalent of hibernation). They build up their food reserves to see them through the winter and to fuel the surge for growth that happens in Spring.
A well planted hawthorn hedge can take care of itself, once it is established and it will shade out almost all weeds. But newly planted hawthorn is a completely different matter - the combination of a weed infestation and a dry spring can decimate Britain's most durable native hedging plant. So now really is the time to get out your systemic weedkiller (any one containing glyphosate is fine) and, following the instructions, water or spray it on the area where you intend to plant your hedge. We would always recommend using a watering can with a fine rose as you can control exactly where the weedkiller goes. It will be taken by your weeds, from the surface of their leaves, deep into their root systems as sap fall and leaves die. And it will kill them. This is probably the best time of year to go after deep rooted perennial weeds.
Do it in haste or repent at leisure.