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By Janet_m

Essex, United Kingdom Gb

I have just had 30 metres of mature privet hedge removed and a fence put in its place. It is my intention to create a bed for flowering shrubs and climbers to mask the fence. However the soil (which is a mixture of clay and a lot of mulch from years of dead leaf and probably dead grass) is also full of root from the old hedge. How do I go about improving the soil for replanting next spring? The fencer said sprinkle bonemeal and leave over the winer for the roots to rot down. I dont want to wait until the spring only to find that I should have dug it over and removed most of the debris straight away. Any advice would be much appreciated.

The hedge was "pulled" out and the roots which are left are fibrous but numerous.



Roots would take a lot longer to rot down, I suspect, if ever! I can't see why bonemeal would rot them anyway. That's what I use when planting shrubs like roses!

I think you'll have to try digging and see if you can get them out. I realise that 30 metres is a lot of work for you. If you can manage it, you could then leave it rough for the frosts to break up the clay for you, then in early spring, dig in well-rotted manure and more organic material like mushroom compost, home-made compost and horticultural grit to prepare the bed for planting.

28 Sep, 2010


Why not put some bonemeal down, fork it in, as suggested, and then go out and get a load of bulbs and have a fabulous spring display to celebrate getting shot of all that privet. It will gladden your heart, give you time to plan what you want to plant there, and if you dig them up and save them, you will be treating the soil as you go. All that hard work for a double purpose. Big big sack of daffs might be an idea. When you put in the shrubs you can enrich the soil near them as you go. Maybe leave the bulbs to increase between the shrubs. Whatever way, it is a lot of hard work. So mind your back.

28 Sep, 2010


Dorjac - the flaw in your inspiring plan is that poor Janet will not be able to dig holes through those roots! I hope she can find someone to help with the digging. I think I'd stick to plan 'A' but maybe place some pots of bulbs so she's got something lovely to look at! :-)))

After all, we do know that preparation is everything....I do agree about her back...

28 Sep, 2010


I'm slightly confused as to the presence of roots - do you mean you had the hedge removed, but left the main stumps in place? Or that you had it removed, including the main roots, and what's left is the fibrous roots throughout the soil?
If the stumps are still present, and the main roots, they need to be removed.
Given that you've had a privet hedge there for some time, the soil will be depleted, so you will need to incorporate lots of humus rich materials, such as well composted manure, leaf mould, spent mushroom compost, soil conditioning compost from the garden centre, good garden compost, anything you can get hold of. Whilst you are incorporating this, remove as much as you can of any fibrous roots you find. Now is the best time to do this, up till end of October.

28 Sep, 2010


Have attempted to say thank you several times, but my messages seem to disappear when half way through. You can see gardening is not all I am new to. I really appreciate all your advice - many thanks to you all.

28 Sep, 2010


I find planting too near a fence/wall depletes the plants of rain/goodness etc. So how about coming forward and planting at least a yard or two from the fence after digging over to let the frost break it up and adding some humas etc.

28 Sep, 2010


I would agree that any stumps and as much root should be removed as possible...apart from the obvious benefits, I would be slightly concerned about the possibility of Honey Fungus!

28 Sep, 2010

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