Success with a new hedge depends on preparing the soil thoroughly before your plants arrive, and pampering them after planting and in the early years. Choose young plants rather than large specimens, since they will grow faster and soon overtake mature plants, giving you a much better hedge for a fraction of the cost.
Nurseries specializing in hedging offer a wide choice of plants, and many do mail order. A good supplier will tell you how plants are packed for shipment, and offer planting and pruning advice. Find suppliers on the Internet or through ads in gardening magazines.
Plants supplied by specialists are offered in three forms: bare-rooted transplants, root-balled, or in containers. Bare-rooted transplants are much cheaper than container-grown specimens; mixed native hedging is usually the most cost-effective option. Bare-root transplants are available from fall to spring, but you can order them at any time of the year and request a delivery date. Remember to ask for delivery in spring if you are buying evergreens or conifers and live in a cold, windy area, since this is the best planting time. Evergreens are also available root-balled, where the plant is lifted from the field with its roots and some soil, and then wrapped to reduce root disturbance.
Always buy more plants than you need in case some of your hedging dies. Plant the surplus in a quiet area of the garden or in containers that are sufficiently large to allow the roots to grow. Keep these plants well watered until your hedge is established and you are sure none need to be replaced.
Bare-rooted and root-balled hedging plants can be bought from fall to spring, but will not usually be lifted from the field in very severe weather, so let availability be your guide. If plants are on mail order, make sure you will be around to receive the delivery, and check your order when it arrives. In cold areas, conifer and evergreen hedges in particular will fare better if planted in spring, rather than winter. Pot-grown plants can be bought and planted all year, but it makes sense to plant in mild, moist fall or spring conditions. If you can’t plant as soon as you receive your hedging, keep plants moist in their packing, and store in a cool place.