Cedar hedge

(Question)

Late last summer, we planted a cedar hedge. It ranges in height from 8′ in the backyard to 14′ in the front yard. We live on the Trent Canal in Bolsover (City of Kawartha Lakes). Now that we have gone through a winter, what steps should we take to get a good growth this spring and fall? I am told that we need to fertilize (I am not sure with what) but as we are in the country that we should NEVER use bone or blood meal as we will attract skunks and racoons. What is the alternative? I have heard that Miracle Grow has a shrub fertilizer but I have never had much luck with their products. What do you suggest?

(Answer)

Wow, if you have that much growth in a year, the cedars must love where they are. As the hedge is only a year old, pruning is probably not necessary, but perhaps a light shearing might be good to trim off the funny sticking out shapes that the snow may have left behind. Cedar hedges can be sheared any time of the year – this means using a hedge shear and removing some of the new growth to thicken the lateral buds.This will keep the lower branches from becoming bare and creating  a hole in the hedge.

Cedars naturally grow in wet ground.  Regular watering is a must, especially in drought conditions.  Watering must be deep so a light sprinkling on the top of the soil is of no use.  Mulching is important to hold that water in the root zone, deter weeds and shade the roots.  Just be sure the mulch does not touch the base of the tree.

Although cedar are quite capable of getting nutrients from around them, the close planting of the hedges can compromise this. So, feeding regularly is important as well. As blood and bone meal are not recommended for your area, a fertilizer that can be dissolved in water and applied directly to the root area will allow more of the nutrients to reach them. First slowly soak the soil around your cedars’ roots with water, before applying the fertilized solution, to make  the soil absorbent. Then, prepare a bucket  full of 30-10-10 nitrogen-rich  solution exactly as directed, and apply. Lastly, be sure to water thoroughly with an equal amount, after applying the fertilizer, but slowly, and gently, so as not to wash the nutrients away.

Go to a reputable garden centre (perhaps not a big box store) and ask for the appropriate type of fertilizer for you cedars; there are many brands.

Another option that does not require mixing, topdressing with sheep manure compost or regular compost will not only feed the hedge but will also improve soil structure, encourage beneficial macro & micro organisms and, the earthworms will love you forever.

For further information:

https://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/forums/showthread.php?t=43010