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spindly hornbeams


cate james
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Hello there

I am hoping for a bit of advice. I bought 3 pleached hornbeams for my tiny London garden 10 years ago. They seem happy and healthy except that the branches which grow horizontally have got no thicker at all since planting (nor the tree trunks). All the trees seem to do is produce masses of vertical shoots which head skywards (I cut these off every late winter/early spring). As a result the trees look quite spindly and I am concerned that when the bamboo frames rot away, they will not really have much strength or structure. Plus I love the architectural silhouettes of other peoples' pleached trees and would love this in my garden. The trees were brought from Italy and planted by a professional. There is weed-reducing matting on top of the soil and slate chips on top of that. During lockdown I removed all the slate and matting and put some compost down, but other than this I have done nothing but watering in dry weather. Any advice for getting those horizontal branches to thicken up would be much appreciated. Thank you, Cate (obvs not a gardener, just an appreciator :))

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They look perfectly normal to me not  esp spindly. Hormbeam are fairly slow growing, I think nothing needs doing.

 

Branches will thicken up with time,  its not something you can acelerate much. Watering in summer and a mulch/feed may help abit to increase growth rate.

Edited by Stere
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Hi Stere

Thank you so much for taking a look. I am interested and pleased to know that you think the trees look OK and that their growth rate is normal. As the soil is covered by matting and thousands of slate chips (which I'd need to remove by hand) mulch would be tricky. So is there a liquid feed you would recommend? Thanks again, Cate

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No liquid feed but slate & plastic under trees is a bad idea imo & best removed and replaced with soil/bark.

 

I dislike the trend for   gravel with plastic membranes in gardens at all, as they are   high maintenance &  generally look rubbish imo.

 

Maybe its ubiquitousness is  something related to thoose garden transformation telly programs?

 

Gardens are much better in most cases either with pavers or soil than plastic membranes scattered with gravel or esp  slate  all over the place.

 

Not must better than astro turf.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Stere said:

No liquid feed but slate & plastic under trees is a bad idea imo & best removed and replaced with soil/bark.

 

I dislike the trend for   gravel with plastic membranes in gardens at all, as they are   high maintenance &  generally look rubbish imo.

 

Absof*ckenlutely. Total disaster leaving mypex and gravel all over the place, unless you RELIGIOUSLY clear every speck of organic material from every inch of it before it gets the chance to decompose into a lovely rich seed propagation bed, perfectly drained with the gravel layer. People expect it to be the end of their weeding woes, failing to remember that new weed seeds appear not just every year, but several times each year. It never works out how people want without constant maintenance. 

When it gets bad enough, some landscapers just put a whole new carpet of mypex down on top of the previous disaster and re-gravel it, instead of taking up the old layer and switching to a better long-term solution, creating a horrific lasagne of compounded problems for future generations to deal with. 

 

Under hedges and around trees: 2 or 3 layers of brown cardboard covered with bark or woodchip. Maybe a bit of sheep fleece if you are into that aesthetic. 

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2 hours ago, Stere said:

No liquid feed but slate & plastic under trees is a bad idea imo & best removed and replaced with soil/bark.

 

I dislike the trend for   gravel with plastic membranes in gardens at all, as they are   high maintenance &  generally look rubbish imo.

 

Maybe its ubiquitousness is  something related to thoose garden transformation telly programs?

 

Gardens are much better in most cases either with pavers or soil than plastic membranes scattered with gravel or esp  slate  all over the place.

 

Not must better than astro turf.

 

 

 

 

Plus, in all the gardens I've seen plastic membranes used, they start to breakdown after a few years. Making it almost impossible to completely remove the horrible stuff.

 

Another one for the banning list, (In domestic settings at least.), along with plastic turf.

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There's loads of different makes and grades of membrane, there's a really cheap and shitty one that's just like a really thin roofing felt, two months on the ground and you put your foot through it with every step. But because it's the cheapest available at the garden centre and comes in the smallest length of roll, it's what every bodge job homeowner likes to bury under that apricot tree from Lidl that they plan to freeze to death. 

 

 

With the woven ones, it absolutely has to be Mypex brand, I used an off-brand alternative recently and it was thinner, poked holes in it too easily, started unweaving at every cut edge almost instantly... at least Mypex is durable and holds itself together well.

Which at least is better if you have to pull it out of the ground in twenty years time to repair some bellend's landscaping choices.

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I'll always remember when a colleague of mine proudly proclaimed "that's it, the garden is "Done"". Having just completed a load of makeover work to make it as hard, straight and sterile as humanly possible. I didn't have the heart to tell him that it would still be plagued by weeds again in a years time ...............

 

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