I AM 30 miles north of toronto –i want to plant some hedges and i see you suggest hornbeam —my site is direct sun on 25 acres –i am looking for wind break and asthetics –where can i get some plants ,,,,i am looking at about 1000 linear feet so say 500 plants ,,,, do they grow from cuttings,,,,how fast do they grow ,,thanks
A Hornbeam (Carpinus) hedge is a great choice in your situation as it maintains it’s brown leaves during the winter which makes it both esthetically pleasing and an effective wind break. Other attributes include it’s good tolerance of varying soil types and sun exposures but be warned, hornbeam do not like an overly wet location. Fall is the ideal planting time so now is the time to source your plants.
For a sizable hedge such as yours, I would suggest your most economic option is to purchase bare root stock. These will be small plants that come with no soil and must be planted quickly or kept moist while waiting. A less economic option is to purchase larger plants which come already potted up.
Below, you will find a link to Landscape Ontario. They should be able to advise you on the best options for purchasing such an amount of plants.
Once you have your order placed, it is a good idea to ready the planting site by removing all weeds and grass. Mapping out the hedge line is also a good idea as you can plant in either a single row with 30cm spacing or a double row with 50cm spacing. The double row will give you a fuller, thicker hedge with 30cm – 50cm distance between the two rows and the row plantings can be staggered (like building bricks). Larger plants in pots can be spaced further apart. Planting is done to just cover the roots so not too deeply and once watered in, a layer of mulch will keep the weeds and grass from competing with the young trees and help retain soil moisture.
The growth rate for a hornbeam is moderate/slow so you could expect about 1 foot of new growth per year. Deer, Rabbit and Hare are common pests when it comes to plantings such as yours so some form of fencing protection is worth considering unless you want to keep replacing little plants on a regular basis.
All going well, your hedge will get established with regular watering and an annual feeding with a high Nitrogen fertilizer such as 18-6-12. These hedges can grow quite tall so any pruning should be done during their slow or dormant season (late fall to mid winter).
Hope this information is helpful.