Gardening tips, Plants,

Fertilising beech hedges: why, how, and when?

Beech trees make beautiful hedges. But if you want the best results, you'll need to provide excellent nutrition. Find out how to fertilise your beech plant!

7 MIN 19 May
Last update: 31 Jul 2023
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Do you have a beech hedge? Is it looking a little thin and sorry for itself? Fertilising beech hedges is the surest route to a robust bush with excellent leaf density.

Table of contents:
  • How to grow a beech hedge
  • Why fertilise a beech hedge?
  • When to fertilise a beech hedge?
  • Which fertiliser to use for a beech hedge?
  • Fertilising your beech hedge with cow dung pellets
  • Fertilising your beech hedge with lime
  • How to fertilise your beech hedge
  • Beech hedge maintenance
  • Tips for fertilising your beech hedge
  • FAQs

Beech hedges are the perfect living privacy barrier, providing dense protection for your garden and home. But there’s no getting away from it: you need to fertilise your bush for the best results. 

This article explores why, how, and why to fertilise your beech hedge. 

Ready? Let’s get feeding!

How to grow a beech hedge

Beautifully sculpted beech hedge over a driveway.
A beautifully sculpted beech hedge – Photo by Katherine Carlyon on Unsplash

The beech is a very successful stand-alone tree. However, it also works perfectly in hedge form, offering beautiful green or red leaves and plenty of density to provide privacy and beauty for your garden.

Beech hedges are popular in British gardens because of their hardiness and attractive, dense growth. These robust plants are relatively low-maintenance and can last for years if properly cared for. 

However, for best results, you need to fertilise your beech hedge for optimal growth. The first feeding should come at the planting stage, then annually throughout the plant’s lifespan. 

Why fertilise a beech hedge?

Sure, you see beech trees growing successfully in forests and woodland, and no one feeds them. 

But when beech trees are pruned into hedges, you disturb their natural growing cycle and plant them closer together than they’d grow in the wild. This effectively stunts the plant’s growth and drains the earth of nutrients because they’re so densely packed together. 

So, regular feeding overcomes these obstacles to growth. 

Fertilising provides the plant with all the necessary nutrients and boosts the plant’s resistance to diseases, pests, and other stress factors. 

Indeed, a well-fertilised hedge will grow faster and provide a beautifully lush density for greater privacy. 

When to fertilise a beech hedge?

A fresh new leaf on a beech tree
New leaves form in the growing season – Photo by Sr. M. Jutta via Pixabay

Like all plants, the optimal window for feeding is during the growing season. Beech trees aren’t particularly voracious feeders, so I recommend fertilising your beech hedges once a year.

However, if you’re pruning your hedge, you should fertilise again after cutting the bush back to compensate the plant for the lost wood. 

The best time to fertilise is early spring when the plant comes out of its winter dormancy. Then, apply a second feed after pruning if you’re neatening up the hedge later in the year. 

Which fertiliser to use for a beech hedge?

There are two types of beech hedge fertiliser: organic or non-organic. Both have advantages and disadvantages, so read on to help you decide which to choose. 

Organic fertilisers for your beech hedge

Organic fertilisers are derived from natural materials, such as chicken/cow manure or blood and bone meal. Alternatively, use homemade or shop-bought compost made from well-rotted grass clippings and garden waste. 

These fertilisers offer slow-release nutrition, making them a more sustainable and long-lasting nutrient source. 

Organic feeds are typically safer for the environment, with less chance of chemical burn. 

Non-organic fertilisers

Chemical fertilisers are synthetically produced. However, they tend to offer quick nutrient release, getting the necessary nutrition to your plants for faster results.

So, if you want quick results, there’s nothing wrong with non-organic fertilisers. Ensure you read the label and follow all environmental cautions to ensure you don’t burn your plants or damage the soil or your local ecosystem.  

Fertilising your beech hedge with cow dung pellets

One of the most popular ways of fertilising beech hedges is with the assistance of cow dung granules. These offer a rich source of organic nutrition and can help improve the soil structure, increasing water retention around your beech hedges.


How to use cow dung pellets

Distribute the pellets or granules over the soil within the plant’s branch span. Then, work them into the ground with a rake. 

Make sure you work the pellets well into the soil to prevent them from washing away during watering or heavy rain. 

Well-rotted manure shouldn’t have a strong aroma like fresh dung. So, make sure you use well-composted manure; otherwise, you’ll stink out your garden! Dung can also attract insects and weeds, so keep a close eye on the earth around your beech hedges after using manure pellets. 

Fertilising your beech hedge with lime

Alternatively, use horticultural lime to fertilise your beech hedge. This will improve the soil condition while reducing acidity — the beech plant prefers neutral or slightly alkaline soil.

Don’t add lime and other fertilisers at the same time. They can react against each other and burn your beech hedge’s roots.  

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How to fertilise your beech hedge

This is pretty straightforward. Follow these steps for excellent results:

  • Choose the correct fertiliser: it’s a good idea to test your soil for specific nutrient deficiencies. Alternatively, go for a fish blood and bone mix. 
  • Prepare the soil: remove weeds and other plants that might compete for nutrition and water. Loosen the dirt around the base to ensure the feed gets absorbed rather than washed away. 
  • Apply your fertiliser: always read the instructions on the packaging, and follow them to the letter. Distribute the fertiliser around the root range, and work it lightly into the soil with a rake. 
  • Water your hedge: provide a slow, deep watering to ensure the fertiliser penetrates the soil. 

Beech hedge maintenance

Check your hedge for signs of pests or disease. Keep the soil clear of weeds, and prune the plant regularly to promote growth and ensure it remains dense and compact. 

If the leaves discolour or you spot an insect infestation, take immediate action. And remember, pruning your beech hedge is an essential task in beech hedge maintenance.

Tips for fertilising your beech hedge

  • Choose organic fertilisers: these are more sustainable and long-lasting than chemical fertilisers. They’re also safer for the environment and less likely to scorch the plant.
  • Apply fertilisers during humidity: it’s best to apply fertilisers while the air is humid. This helps ensure the fertiliser penetrates the soil, reaching the roots. 
  • Distribute the fertiliser evenly: spread the feed evenly over the root range of your beech hedge, and ensure that each plant gets plenty of nutrition. 


Which month to fertilise a beech hedge?

Fertilise your beech hedge in the spring, just as the plant wakes up from its winter dormancy. Avoid feeding during a drought. If you prune later in the year, apply a second feeding; otherwise, once a year is ample.

What is the best fertiliser for beech hedges?

We prefer organic fertilisers because they’re longer-lasting, offering a slow-release feed for your plants. They’re less likely to scorch your plant’s roots and are better for the environment. Our favourite organic feeds are chicken or cow manure or fish blood and bone. 

How do you get a beech hedge fuller?

If you want to encourage density within your beech hedge, feed it at least once a year. And although it might feel counterintuitive, prune the bush, which will promote new growth. 

Any questions?

I hope you’ve got all the answers you need to feed your beech hedges. But if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’ll reply as quickly as possible. 

And don’t forget to check out our comprehensive Help & Advice section — for expert tips on lawns and gardens! 

Thanks for reading!

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