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Beech Hedges for Color and Screening

Beech Hedges for Color and Screening

By Stephanie Pratt, InstantHedge
Photographs courtesy of InstantHedge

You may think it a known fact that evergreens make the best privacy hedges, but you may also think that you will have to forfeit that quality if you want seasonal color interest from a hedge. Think again!

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European beech (Fagus sylvatica) is a wonderful exception to the rule that a good privacy hedge must be evergreen. With lush, green foliage in May through October, European beech has been a favorite hedge choice for centuries (literally). Once the fall temperatures take a more dramatic dip, the leaves will be tinged with hues of gold, copper, and even purple. Then the colors all turn the same bright copper and remain on the branches until the fresh green leaves flush out again the following spring.

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This means that beech, a deciduous tree, can be an effective year-round privacy screen and give you a lovely seasonal display of color. That can’t be said for many species!

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Features: European beech is hardy from USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5-8 (sometimes into Zone 4). They grow well in full sun to partial shade and are very low maintenance. Growth rate is 6-8” per year. They flush out in late spring, turn colors in late fall, and hold their copper leaves through the winter until they flush out for spring again. The branches are smooth and gray.

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Uses: Beech is a versatile choice for hedges and is easy to maintain anywhere from 4-12’ tall. Shorter hedges are perfect for creating garden rooms, and taller hedges are great for privacy. They can also be trained into shapes like arches over time.

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Pruning Tips: To encourage the best growth and winter leaf retention, you should prune lightly twice per year. The first should be immediately after the spring flush, usually in early June, to make your hedge nice and dense. The second should be in early August to encourage a second flush of growth that will be the best for retaining through winter. Any structural pruning of large branches should be done in winter when the hedge is dormant. Pre-finished beech hedges are available from InstantHedge and can be purchased online through Conifer Kingdom.

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