You’ll find all the information you’ll need to choose, plant and care for Living Walls instant hedges in the following sections. But if we’ve forgotten something, please let us know.
“I recommend Living Walls to anyone who just can’t wait or needs good ‘bones’ to define their landscape.”
Architectural uses for Living Walls: Hedges can be more than just ‘the walls’ of your outdoor room. Consider ways they can be used to give direction, channel traffic through a space, enclose an area and give screening and privacy. Hedges are also commonly used to link different architectural elements within a site.
Environmental uses for Living Walls: Hedges can be used reduce or increase airflow through an area. Decreased airflow is achieved by planting a tall, small leafed hedge to filter the wind or you can deflect wind by using a shorter thick hedge. Increased airflow can be achieved by deflection of air into an area. This may help to cool a hot courtyard, for example.
Larger leafed hedges can also help reduce traffic noise by absorbing and deflecting sound.
Appropriately placed hedges can be used to help stabilize ground where soil erosion or slippage is a concern.
Aesthetic uses for Living Walls: Hedges can be used to soften architecture, emphasis a view or object and add dynamic changes with each season. A hedge may attract birds, supply colour, flowers, texture, scent and fruit. Use hedges to link and unify a garden or create a background. Hedges don’t always have to be straight, think of incorporating curves, waves, pillars and topiary. Creating a ‘window’ in a hedge can look pretty cool too.
Choosing the right Living Walls: It is important to consider plant suitability for the particular environment in which it will have to grow. When choosing plants for difficult situations, select them carefully. By their nature, hedging plants tend to be pretty tough, but thoughtful selection may avoid any future plant performance issues and disappointment. Please refer to our Availability to help choose the best instant hedge for your situation.
The Living Screen can weigh over 100kg when wet, so you may want a couple of burly blokes (or other means) to carry these around your site.
The Living Boundary at 65kg requires two people to move. One person can comfortably carry the Living Edge.
Living Walls instant hedge bags are 900mm long. Place the hedge root ball 100mm apart for one unit per metre, so the foliage will be touching but not the rootball.
Your Living Walls have grown in the nursery with the logo on the bag facing the same way. For a uniform hedge, place your Living Walls with the logo facing the same way before planting.
The one-metre long units can be carefully cut to shorter lengths providing each individual plant retains a good part of its root system. Cutting the rootball with an old panel or pruning saw is ideal and minimises root disturbance. Trimming the hedge and watering correctly after planting will also help it cope with any root damage.
Hedge - one metre long x approx. 250mm high x 250 wide
Rootball allowance - 150mm deep x 250mm wide x 900mm long,
in a 30 litre hedge bag weighing approx. 25kg
Hedge - one metre long x up to 900mm high x 400 wide at the base
Rootball allowance - 250mm deep x 400mm wide x 900mm long,
in a 80 litre hedge bag weighing approx. 65kg; 0.5 cubic metre for freight specifications
Hedge - one metre long x up to 1800mm high x 500 wide at the base
Rootball allowance - 300mm deep x 500mm wide x 900mm long,
in a 120 litre hedge bag weighing approx. 100kg; approx 1.2 cubic metres for freight specifications
“Planting metres of Living Walls is as satisfying as building in Lego...fits perfectly and looks superb!”
1. Dig a trench at least the same depth as the hedge bag. Please see Product Specifications for the minimum measurements recommended.
For new builds, have the trenches prepared while machinery is on site.
It is best to have your site prepared before the arrival of your Living Walls instant hedge, so that planting happens soon after. Keep aside a reasonable amount of soil for backfilling. Break up any hard pans at the bottom of the trench to aid root penetration. Rapid root growth is essential for quick establishment of your hedge and subsequent health and performance.
2. Resolve any drainage issues at this stage
Most hedges prefer a well-drained soil. The importance of air, or more specifically oxygen, to plant roots cannot be over-emphasized. When oxygen supply to roots is cut off as in a compacted, or poorly drained waterlogged soil, plant roots will die or be severely damaged.
To test if you need drainage, try adding water to the trench and observe for a couple of hours. If the water has not drained away, you may need to address your drainage.
3. Cut out the two square ends of the bag and lift the hedge into the trench using the bag as a sling. Avoid kicking or roughly handling the rootball, as this will weaken your hedge.
4. Remove the hedge from the bag.
If you have a site with a well-drained soil, ensure that the top of the rootball is at ground level, when planted.
If you have a heavy clay soil or a particularly wet site, to aid drainage, consider planting your hedge with the rootball raised one third above ground level.
If you have a very light sandy soil, or are planting your hedge on a steep site, consider planting the rootball slightly lower than the surrounding ground level, but ensure that soil is not placed up against the plants’ trunks.
5. Settle all of the units into place before backfilling. Remember: place each rootball 10cm apart for one per metre. Back fill with some of the loosened soil you dug out, packing it firmly around the rootball, but do not compact the soil. We don’t recommend adding soil amendments or fertiliser while backfilling.
6. Water in well by slowly applying at least 20-30 litres of water per metre of hedge, immediately after planting.
7. Mulches of coarse organic matter or other materials can be used to help reduce water loss and control competitive weeds. Don’t let the mulch build up against the plant trunks. Don’t use green grass clippings.
8. Fertiliser may be applied at planting by broadcasting a suitable slow release fertiliser around the base of the hedge (see Care Guide).
9. Leave the hedge to settle for a few days before lightly trimming to shape.
10. Stand back and enjoy!
Water: Keep the soil moist (not wet) during the first year and during extended dry periods. Water deeply once or twice a week depending on soil type and environmental conditions. Watering “a little and often” will encourage shallow rooting and is not recommended. Some hedges (particularly taller ones) will remain quite dry underneath, even after rain. The soil should be moist to touch at about 5cms from the surface. If it is dry here, water is needed. If it is wet and you haven't recently watered, drainage may be needed.
If watering isn’t possible, choose dry tolerant Living Walls, mulch well and plant in autumn to give the hedge time to establish before its first summer. In very light soils or areas where root growth will be restricted (e.g., in planter boxes), a permanent irrigation system would be a good idea. Twining Valley Nurseries carries a supply of irrigation tape and pressure reducing valves if required.
Feed: All hedges benefit from regular feeding. Fertiliser will help rapid establishment, vigour, health and quality of your hedge. On the other hand, excessive or incorrect fertilisation may cause excessive succulent growth that may be susceptible to cold damage, drought and some diseases. We recommend feeding your hedge in early spring and again in mid summer with a good slow release granular fertiliser such as Twining Valley’s ‘Hedge Grow’ or ‘Hedge Hold’. Simply broadcast onto the soil surface 50-100 grams per metre of hedgerow depending on hedge size. An average handful is approximately 50 grams. Avoid contact with the leaves or trunks as the fertiliser may burn. Once your hedge has established and reached your desired height and thickness you can cut the fertilising down to once a year, in early spring.
Trimming: Formative trimming (trimming newly planted rows of individual plants into a hedge) is the key to establishing a good hedge. Fortunately, by purchasing a Living Walls instant hedge, this has been done for you.
The timing and frequency of maintenance trimming depends on the plant species as well as your desired finish. Generally, 2-3 trims during the growing season will suffice. Leave trimming of flowering hedges until after flowering, and fruiting hedges until after fruiting. Trimming in the evening or on an overcast day will minimise leaf scorch. We try to avoid trimming our hedges while the birds are nesting too!
The choice of hedge trimming equipment largely comes down to personal preference (and level of fitness!). Hand shears are great for short runs and make the tidiest cut, particularly on hedges with larger leaves. For speed or longer hedges, powered trimmers win hands down.
Cut the sides first. Vertical sides suit low hedges, but they shade out lower growth in taller hedges. Trim your Living Screen or Living Boundary so that the sides slope inwards from bottom to top, 5° to 10° from the vertical. (See diagram in Planting Guide) This allows sunlight to reach the lower branches and helps prevent leaf loss. This is particularly important for sun loving plants such as Pittosporums. Don’t be afraid to set up string lines along the hedge to act as a guide. Hedges may well be ‘self healing’ but it still takes time for mistakes to grow out.
Once your hedge has reached your desired height and width, only trim the new shoots/growth. This encourages more of the buds on the remaining wood to develop.
Pests and diseases: Where possible, we avoid spraying our hedges. Healthy, vigorous hedges generally have the ability to cope with pests and diseases when they occur on a minor scale. But our landscaped gardens are artificial situations and the build-up of pests and diseases may reach undesirable levels requiring treatment. Choosing plants suited to your local soil and climatic conditions will alleviate most pest and disease issues. Please see our Product Availability and Guide (PDF) for cultural requirements.
We’ll briefly cover four problems that can sometimes affect our popular hedging plants. Our main reference sources are Managing Pest and Diseases by Rob Lucas, Craig Potton Publishing; and New Zealand Novachem Agrichemical Manual, published by Agrimedia Ltd.
1. Psyllid – these are small insects, the adults look like winged aphids. The juvenile stage has a thin, flat, shell-like covering that makes them look rather like scale insects. Symptoms include tiny ‘lumps’ or blistering on the new growth of Pittosporum and Syzygium hedges in spring and summer. The shoots and leaves are resistant to infestation once the new growth has hardened. Consequently, the long-term effect of psyllid on an established hedge is not usually significant.
Whilst establishing your hedge, control psyllid by 2-3 sprays of an appropriate systemic insecticide during spring and summer if required. We use imidacloprid (eg Kohinor™ or Confidor®), which also controls aphids, mealy bugs, scale, thrips, whitefly and other sucking insects on ornamentals, roses and vegetables. An organic option is regular applications of spraying oil (eg Eco-oil®) following the label recommendations. Any damaged leaves or shoots can simply be trimmed off.
2. Scale insects – most scales are 2-3mm long insects that have hard coverings, and they are often mussel shaped. Scale insects fix themselves to leaves and stems, and suck sap. Infested leaves turn yellow and often are covered with copious quantities of sticky honeydew on which sooty mould grows. Nymphs called ‘crawlers’ are tiny mobile juvenile scales and disperse over plants or are carried further afield by wind, birds and insects. Later nymph stages are immobile and form hard protective coverings.
Several types of hedge plants such as Corokia, Syzygium, Camellia, Ilex, Manuka and Citrus can be attacked by scale insects. Many scale species are heavily attacked by parasites and this may be sufficient to keep populations down to acceptable levels. Where chemical control measures are necessary, we use the same pesticides as for psyllid control.
3. Thrips – another tiny insect barely visible to the naked eye. Adults are usually black, and nymphs are cream. They infest and damage foliage and flowers of many ornamental plants including hedges of Photinia, Citrus, Bay, Pyracantha and Myrtus. Thrips commonly cause silvering on the upper sides of leaves and deposit tiny, brown, treacle-like excreta on the undersides.
Thrips are relatively easy to control with 2-3 systemic insecticide sprays (e.g., Kohinor™ or Confidor®) over the summer months. Thrips favour warm, dry, sheltered conditions, so avoid using susceptible hedges in these environments.
4. Phytophthora wilt – a large number of fungal parasites can cause root rot in plants. In our experience, the most common root disease in hedging plants is phytophthora. As the disease progresses, lower leaves droop, turn yellow then brown, and may fall off. Upper leaves wilt, and sometimes the complete plant dies. In other cases, one part of the plant dies and leaves the rest apparently healthy. Many plants infected with phytophthora develop a symptom known as ‘collar rot’ – a ring of black stained tissue at the base of the stem. The severity of symptoms and the speed of disease development depend on the plant’s ability to produce new roots and withstand the possible water shortages resulting from loss of roots. Phytophthora disease in susceptible plants is most prevalent in heavy soils that dry out in summer and are very wet in winter.
Avoid planting susceptible plants (e.g., Griselinia, Michelia and Corokia hedges) in such positions, or improve these soils by mulching well with organic matter and improving drainage. Incorrect watering and fertilising may also exaggerate the problem.
If disease symptoms develop, you can protect plants by spraying and/or drenching soil with the systemic fungicide, phosphorous acid (e.g., Foli-R-Fos® or Foschek™), at recommended label rates. Severely infected plants may have insufficient leaf area to absorb sufficient chemical. These should be removed, drainage improved and soil treated (by drenching fungicide) before replanting. Applying the beneficial fungus, Trichoderma harzianum, to phytophthora prone soils can help protect susceptible plants.
Weed control: The establishment and growth of newly planted Living Walls can be greatly increased by eliminating competition from weeds, especially grasses. Grasses compete strongly for water and soil nutrients and will retard the hedge’s root growth if present. Turf and weeds should be controlled from along the base of the hedge. Mulches can be used to control weeds and conserve moisture.
Contact herbicides such as Buster® (glufosinate-ammonium) or the organic Hitman® (coconut palm oil) are good because they are active against a wide range of grass and broadleaf weeds and are not taken up by the roots of the hedge plants. Avoid contact with green parts of the hedge including immature bark as damage may occur. We don’t recommend using systemic herbicides such as glyphosate (e.g., Roundup®) close to our hedges or any desirable plants.
Whether or not a lush hedge looks and feels more appealing than a wooden or tin fence is pretty much a no brainer.
And there is a substantial body of research that supports the use of hedges in urban landscapes.
So if you’re interested in the technical bits, please read on…
P.S. if you think it’s just marketing spin, you’ll find references at the conclusion.
Hedges help to reduce local wind speeds.
Hedges help to reduce traffic noise, absorbing and deflecting sound.
Hedges help reduce localised temperature extremes (The Urban Heat Island) by shading and converting liquid water to water vapour (evapotranspiration) which cools the air. 1
Hedges can improve environmental performance of buildings. They slow down winds thereby reducing the amount of heat lost from a home, especially where conductivity is high (e.g., glass windows). 8
Hedges increase biodiversity and provide food and shelter for wildlife. 9-13
Hedges can increase infiltration and storage of rainwater through their root systems.
Hedges can assist in land remediation and soil erosion.
Hedges may have a positive impact on both physical & mental health and wellbeing. Green views and access to green spaces in cities help and relieve the everyday pressures of crowding and noise. Research shows that kids are better able to concentrate, complete tasks, and follow directions after playing in natural settings. 14,15,16,19
Hedges are unlikely to be graffitied!
Hedges improve the quality and perception of the urban environment.
Hedges can provide security. ‘Prickly’ hedges provide a dense and natural barrier to unwanted guests.
Hedges can provide soft screening and privacy.
Hedges can have seasonal variations in colour, growth, flowers, and perfume which provide all year round interest.
Hedges can provide fruit.
Hedges help to create a positive perception for prospective purchasers of property. They soften new build houses and give immediate character and warmth.
Hedges can improve the environmental performance of buildings and therefore the economic performance through reducing heating and cooling costs. 8
Hedges provide screening and /or barriers where fencing regulations may limit alternatives.
Hedges may enhance the prospects of securing planning permission.
Hedges may help to improve health in the urban population, thus reducing healthcare costs. 19
“The product is cost effective and looks brilliant.”
Q. How much do Living Walls cost?
A. As a guide, a Living Screen would generally cost more than a budget timber-paling fence but be cheaper than a good brushwood fence, and substantially cheaper than a concrete wall.
If you are hiring the services of a professional landscape contractor, they can make recommendations and quote for the purchase and installation of your Living Walls instant hedges.
If you are undertaking the installation of your Living Walls instant hedges yourself, please Contact Twining Valley for our latest price and availability list.
Q. Where do I buy Living Walls?
A. Living Walls are available direct from our nursery, or from your landscape professional. If you wish to visit the nursery to view the Living Walls, please Contact Twining Valley to make an appointment, Monday-Friday, 9:00-5:00
Q. Are you open in the weekend?
A. We are closed in the weekends and on public holidays.
Q. Do you deliver?
A. Yes, we deliver or can organise delivery throughout New Zealand.
Q. Can I come and pick up from your nursery?
A. Sure. We’re open Monday-Friday, 9:00-5:00. Please let us know when you’ll be coming so we can give you a hand. And remember, some of our hedges are large. A Living Screen will not fit in a station wagon.
Q. Do I need an expert to plant my Living Walls?
A. You can employ the services of a professional landscape contractor or you can plant your Living Walls instant hedges yourself. Bear in mind that the Living Screens can weigh up to 120kgs when wet, so you will need some muscle to help you move them into place, and you may want a little help with the digging too. Please see our Planting Guide for detailed instructions.
Q. Can you recommend a landscape contractor in my area?
A. Yes, we’re happy to pass on names of contractors that have experience with our product or you can contact a Landscaping New Zealand member near you. www.lianz.org.nz
Q. How many plants are in a bag?
A. It doesn’t matter because you’re buying a metre of hedge! But since you ask, Living Edge has six, Living Boundary has three and Living Screen has two.
Q. How tall do Living Walls grow?
A. If left untrimmed the hedge plants will ultimately grow to their natural proportions. For example, our 900 mm Living Boundary Camellia would grow to 3000 mm and our 1800 mm Living Screen Griselinia would grow to 5000 mm. However, we have chosen the plant spacing within our Living Walls specifically for their intended trimmed height. As a guide, a Living Edge is suitable for a 250-500 mm trimmed height, a Living Boundary between 900-1800 mm and a Living Screen between 1800-3000mm. There are exceptions to this, so please Contact Twining Valley if you are not sure.
Q. Are Living Walls dog proof?
A. It depends on the hedge and the dog. We’ve found that nothing will contain a Jack Russell for example. Consider placing a cheap chicken wire fence along the length of, and close to your Living Walls. The foliage will grow through the wire and conceal the fence.
Q. Can I leave my Living Walls in their bags?
A. Your Living Walls have been growing happily in their bags for a long time now, but have had the constant care and attention of our nursery team. It is best to plant your Living Walls as soon as possible after arrival, but if there is a delay, please water your Living Walls deeply every few days. Remove Living Walls instant hedges from their bags for planting.
Q. When should I plant Living Walls?
A. Now! As long as you have adequate water for summer planting, and have prepared your trench well, you can plant Living Walls at any time of the year. However, for warmer parts of the country, autumn planting is recommended to allow the root system to grow during the winter. And for colder areas, spring planting is best, when the air is still cool and the transpiration rate is low. Under these conditions, the roots will grow rapidly and provide ample water for the tops.
Q. Do I need to stake my Living Walls?
A. In most cases no. In very exposed conditions, we suggest you reduce the height of the hedge, this will reduce the windage and give the hedge a chance to grow into and adapt to its environment. You’ll end up with a stronger and healthier hedge in the long run. In some cases, our customers have bought Living Walls before they were fully grown. These may need temporary support in exposed situations.
Q. Do you discount your Living Walls?
Q. Not even for seriously large numbers?
A. It depends; call us.
Q. Will you grow a particular type, size or number of Living Walls for me?
A. Absolutely. All we need is enough time (and a deposit).
Q. Will you hold Living Walls at the nursery until I’m ready to plant?
A. Yes, please see our Terms and Conditions.
Q. Do you sell Eugenia?
A. No! There is a lot of confusion (and incorrect labelling) over what is commonly known as the “Lilly Pilly”.
The correct taxonomic names for the 3 most commonly found in New Zealand are-
Waterhousia floribunda (Old name: Eugenia ventenatti or Syzygium floribundum) Common name: weeping Lilly Pilly
Syzygium australe (Old name: Eugenia australis) Common name: brush cherry or Australian rose apple
Acmena smithii (Old name: Eugenia smithii) Common name: Lilly Pilly (or weed!)
We chose the Syzygium australe for its more upright formal look, instead of the casual soft finish of a Waterhousia floribunda.
It all started with a trip to Auckland to help a friend shift house…
Andrew Bowman was driving through the eastern suburbs. He began noticing how houses were surrounded by a higgledy-piggledy mishmash of wooden and tin fences, walls, beautiful hedges and hedge wannabes.
The houses with beautiful hedges looked like homes, a relaxing peaceful retreat from the outside hubbub of suburbia. The houses with wooden fences appeared cold, hard and, to be honest, uninviting and unappealing.
Andrew’s epiphany – What if people could have ready-made mature hedges, without much fuss, and without waiting years for them to grow? Houses could become homes, gardens would become havens, and all would be right with the world!
Thus, the Living Walls instant hedges seed was sown (so to speak).
Andrew gained a Bachelor of Horticulture from Massey University in the 1980’s. His career has spanned the fields of engineering, garden retailing, landscape contracting, and for the last 10+years, growing.
With this extensive nursery, landscaping and engineering experience to call upon, and his passion for hedges, Andrew developed his ideas. In his well-equipped (and often envied) shed, he came up with the overall system to create the award-winning instant hedging product - Living Walls Hedges in a hurry.
Andrew with his wife, Lisa, owns and operates Twining Valley Nurseries in the magnificent Mangatawhiri Valley, just south of Auckland.
Award winning, huh?
Yep, winner of the 2008 NGIA Scotts Innovation Award, which celebrates innovation in the NZ Nursery and Garden Industry.
And this is an award-winning website, too - Winner Best Website 2011, Nursery and Garden Industry Association Marketing Awards.
So, what do other people say about Twining Valley Nurseries and Living Walls instant hedges?
"I have to admit that I sniggered when I saw the Living Walls advertisement in a magazine...great idea, great humour, I thought, what are the prices like! The prices are definitely comparable, the selection great and the service prompt and friendly.
All photographs are clear and crisp giving a true taste of the different varieties of hedging on offer...a must when showing clients.
Planting metres of 'Living Walls' is as satisfying as building in Lego...fits perfectly and looks superb!"
Clare Smith Stevens
“I was looking for a solution to address privacy concerns for a number of our clients. I found the team at Twining Valley Nurseries to be quick off the bat and very helpful.
I recommend Living Walls to anyone who just can’t wait or needs good “bones” to define their landscape.
Nothing else cuts the mustard when it comes to providing a sure fire, healthy, established “soft” option when it comes to highlighting, screening and defining areas in our clients’ landscapes.”
All About Landscapes
“I was looking for a solution to instantly add privacy for a client with a new home in a subdivision where solid fences higher than one metre where not permitted. The 1.8m high hedging that I purchased from Twining Valley was of outstanding quality, the service and advice provided couldn't have been better, the new garden looked more established and I believe the hedging was great value for money. I recommend Living Walls to anyone who is looking for a hedge or screen whether it is very low or two metres tall. The product is cost effective and looks brilliant.
I have a very happy client, which is from my perspective what matters to me most.”
Fusion Landscape Design Ltd
“I was really pleased with the Camellia Setsugekka hedge. The day it went in it was flowering, giving real establishment to a brand new garden.
Customers immediately see the complete result of their landscape planting…it’s the hedging equivalent of roll out lawn. The applications are endless.”
Terragona Landscape Contractors
“I contacted Twining Valley Nurseries because I was looking for good quality plants with a special instant effect.
My clients were very taken with the idea of using Living walls hedges in strategic areas throughout the garden. One part involved using Living Wall hedges for the screening of sheds and the garage. By the front entrance we decided to use the instant hedges to create visual effect. The Box hedges framed the patio beautifully.
In all areas the result was stunning. All tradesmen working on the site, our clients and any of their visitors were very impressed. It resulted in a complete transformation of the house site.
The team at Twining Valley Nurseries was outstanding. They were always available to give sound advice and recommendations. Delivery times and quality of plant material was excellent.
I recommend Living Walls to anyone who loves hedges or formal gardens. Anyone who is unsure of which type of plants to use, will find the team at Twining Valley very helpful in giving suggestions involving the huge variety of plants they have available.
Thank you so much for making my work look so good.”
“For some reason we thought instant hedging was going to be HEAPS more expensive - this is fantastic.”