A quick guide to planting and caring for your Living Walls Pleached Screen hedge is below.
If you are employing a landscape contractor to install your hedge, please forward this guide to them.
Please check measurements before planting as all quoted measurements are approximate.
○ Planting. Dig a 400mm deep by 400mm wide trench for the length of your hedge. Alternatively, you may prefer to dig individual holes 400mm deep and up to 600mm in diameter. Keep aside a reasonable amount of soil for backfilling. Break up any hard pans at the bottom and side of the trench/hole to aid root penetration.
You can also plant Pleached Screen hedges into suitably sized, well-drained large planters, using good quality container/potting mix beneath and around the rootball.
Resolve any drainage issues at this stage. The planting site must be well-drained, as plants won't thrive, and may even fail in saturated soils. Check the drainage at several places along the intended hedge site, at the lowest points especially. Most plants prefer well-drained soil and don't like 'wet feet' - their roots in waterlogged soil. The importance of air or more specifically oxygen, to plant roots cannot be over-emphasised. When the 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 hasn't drained away, you may need to address your drainage. Remedy any drainage issues or consider planting the rootballs 100mm proud of (above) the surrounding soil surface. If planting the rootball proud, mound soil up to the same level as the rootball, so that the roots aren't left exposed to the air.
Don't add amendments into your hole, such as scoria/drainage metal, compost/sheep pellets/manure, water crystals, or fertiliser. Contrary to popular belief, scoria doesn't improve drainage; compost breaks down, causing plantings to sink and manure can be too rich for delicate roots; and fertiliser should be top-dressed only (scattered on the surface).
Water the rootball well before planting.
Carefully remove the planter bag by cutting two sides of the bag to release the rootball.
Place the rootballs into the planting hole ensuring that the pleached trees are straight, level and evenly spaced, with frames facing the same way. If you want to form a continuous hedge, plant one pleached screen per metre, i.e. at one-metre centres. Settle all of the units into place, aligned to your liking, before backfilling. Backfill half of the planting hole with some of the loosened soil you dug out, packing it firmly around the rootball. Water thoroughly to eliminate air pockets. Water again once backfilling is completed, by slowly applying up to 20 litres (2 buckets) of water per screen.
○ Staking. The frames can be tied together. Support for the screens will be required initially and in exposed sites. Support could be tying the screens to a wire attached to your fence, for example, or a Waratah and wire system on the leeward side if there is no permanent structure. Alternatively, use traditional tree staking methods - 2 x 1.8m stakes firmly placed in the ground 100mm from the rootball, tying the screen loosely to the stakes with soft tree ties. Staking will help to stabilise the hedge while the roots are establishing in their new home. All staking needs to be checked from time to time, to make sure that it is still effective and not harming the trees in any way. It varies when stakes need to be removed but, when good growth occurs and in sheltered sites, removal could be done the year following planting. The bamboo frames remain in the hedge at planting but will eventually rot away or can be removed in the future if no longer required.
○ Watering. For effective establishment in the landscape, all advanced grade plants require deep watering in their first summer or two, and over extended windy and/or dry periods. Keep the soil moist, but not water-logged. Regularly check the root zone to ensure that plants are watered adequately. Plants stressed by over or under-watering can become prone to pests and diseases, drop foliage or fail to thrive. We recommend that you install drip irrigation as a watering method if you have several screens. Plants in containers or planter boxes will require permanent irrigation management, as these plants will have little access to rain or groundwater.
○ Feeding and Mulching. After planting, and each spring and summer, scatter a complete NPK-based slow-release fertiliser, such as Nitrophoska® , Nitro Blue or Triabon®, on top of the rootballs. NPK stands for nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). These fertilisers are available from your local garden supply store.
Add a deep layer (50-100mm) of organic mulch on top of the rootball and exposed soil, to help retain moisture, control weeds and improve soil condition. Maintain this level of mulch each spring, after you have fed your pleached screen. Don't pile mulch up against the plant trunks. Don't use green grass clippings, either.
○ Trimming. Trim evergreen pleached screen varieties lightly up to 4 times while actively growing during spring to autumn, even if you wish to grow the screens taller or broader than the purchased dimensions. Prune deciduous pleached screens to shape in winter and lightly trim in spring/summer, if required.