Hornbeam hedge plants (Carpinus Betulus) is an extremely attractive and versatile plant that makes it a popular choice for many homeowners and gardeners. It looks great all year round due to its bright colours but grows in several different types of conditions. Known for its durability and stunning autumnal leaves, Hornbeam hedges are an extremely sought after hedging type.

As a native hedge plant, hornbeams have extremely similar characteristics to beech hedges but differ by Hornbeam having more deeply veined leaves with serrated edges (the edge of a Beech leaf is smooth and wavy). The leaves are bright fresh green when they emerge in spring, becoming a deeper green as they mature later in the season. In Autumn the foliage changes through various shades of yellow before turning brown at the start of winter. A Hornbeam hedge will retain its leaves during winter in the same way as both types of Beech, although it can lose a few more leaves, especially in windy weather. In winter the Hornbeam leaves are a darker nut-brown colour compared to the coppery brown of Beech.

Their year-round leaf coverage is extremely attractive to wildlife that provides shelter, roosting, nesting and foraging opportunities for native animals and birds. Its seeds are eaten by small mammals during winter, whilst a number of insects such as caterpillars and moths feed on its leaves all year round. If you’re looking for a hedging species to help wildlife in your local area, this is the hedge for you.

How to Plant European Hornbeam Hedging

Hornbeam hedging can flourish in difficult conditions, including in poorly drained soil and is resistant against late spring frosts that can destroy other hedge species. Hornbeam will grow in full sun and partial shade, this is also a good choice for difficult windy and exposed sites where the plants will thrive while bringing valuable shelter and privacy as they develop.

The number of plants you need for a new Hornbeam hedge depends on how patient you are and the size of the plant you’d like. Three plants per metre is adequate in a single row, especially for the larger sizes. Five per metre will give a denser hedge, especially if you plant them in a double row. For thick and fast-developing hornbeam hedges you could use 7 plants per metre in a double row.

Hornbeam trees can grow up to 30m in height and live for over 300 years, so hornbeam hedges require consistent maintenance to stop them growing in height. They’re best pruned in summer to provide a sight screen in winter.  Hornbeam can be maintained as a hedge from under 1 metre to over 5 metres, established hedges can be kept in good order with a single trim in late summer. For a very formal and manicured look, you could trim twice, this may sound like twice as much work but there will be a significantly smaller volume of clippings to get rid of overall.

Hornbeam makes an excellent topiary specimen that can be trimmed into most shapes quite easily. They make excellent pleached or shaped trees, especially easy if you start with a modest size between 100-150cm that will easily mould against a stout bamboo cane or tree stake to give a straight stem, the perfect starting point.

Why Choose Hopes Grove Nurseries?

Hopes Grove Nurseries are proud to be the UK’s leading hedging specialists since we started 30 years ago. During this time, we’ve developed our own expert knowledge that we’d love to share with growers across the country. If you’d like to know more about our growing techniques or looking for some tips, give us a call or browse our knowledge hub for more information. Each member of our sales team has first-hand growing experience, so we’re well-suited to answering any questions you may have. Whether you’re planting Thuja hedging, privet hedges, Alder hedges or Cherry hedges, we’re here to help.

Our priority is ensuring each and every plant is delivered to you fresh and of the highest quality. Our half a million plant varieties are lovingly grown in our 80-acre nursery based in Kent. It’s no wonder our customers return to us year after year, and with our five-star rating on Feefo, you can see what our customers think about us. You can buy online today, or if you’d like to speak to us directly about our hornbeam hedges, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.