Beech or Hornbeam - Selecting the Right Hedge
Advice on choosing a Hornbeam or Beech Hedge
Beech, Fagus sylvatica and Hornbeam, Carpinus betulus, are unrelated but very similar looking trees when they are grown as a hedge.
Hornbeam is the cheaper of the two, but you should also consider these points:
- Beech is the most popular due to its beautiful leaves. After they turn brown in autumn, they will hang onto the branches right through the winter.
- In sunny site, Beech is the faster growing of the two.
- If your site has good drainage and good sunshine, we suggest using Beech.
- Hornbeam has crinkled leaves that some people consider less beautiful than beech.
- The autumn leaves will hang on the branches for most of the winter, but not as long as beech.
- In a site with some shade, or in a cold, exposed area, or in a frost pocket, Hornbeam will be the faster growing of the two.
- If your site has damp soil with poor drainage, then you must use Hornbeam.
How to test your soil drainage:
Observe the bare soil after a period of heavy rain. If there are still puddles of rainwater on the surface of the earth where you are going to plant your hedge 12-24 hours after the rain has stopped, then the ground is probably too wet for beech.
If your soil is very wet
Although Hornbeam grows happily in much damper soil than beech, it won't grow in a real swamp or an area that is waterlogged in the winter. Dogwood, willow and Alder are all good choices for very wet soil.
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