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How Far Apart To Plant Hawthorn Shrubs For A Hedge

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Have you seen some beautiful blooming hawthorn hedges and decided you'd like some to add a hedge to your fenceline or driveway? Think they would look fabulous as a patio hedge? Perhaps you are just curious about these common landscape plants. We've done the research and will let you know all we have learned about the popular hawthorn shrubs!

To develop a hedge with Hawthorn, you will want to create spacing for each plant that is 32 to 40 inches (80 to 100 cm) apart, making sure to stay at least 36-38 inches (90-120cm) from any concrete surfaces. 

Now that you've learned the best spacing to develop a hedge with Hawthorn shrubs, continue reading for instructions on just how to plant these hedges and in-depth answers to some common questions, procedures, and some surprising benefits for these useful landscaping plants.

Crataegus coccinea healthy and ornamental red fruits, beautiful tree branches with green leaves. How Far Apart To Plant Hawthorn Shrubs For A Hedge

How far apart should hedges be planted?

There are several different varieties of hawthorn that are regularly used as landscaping shrubs or hedges.

In the U.K., the most popular variety is Crataegus Monogyna. It also goes by the name Quickthorn, Mayblossom, Whitethorn, and Maythorn. This variety is considered the best and quite popular for creating tall hedges in landscaping design. The shrubs can grow anywhere from 15-45 feet (4-14 meters) tall.

Old farm house partially hidden behind flowering hawthorn hedge

The more popular hawthorn used in the southern United States is Rhaphiolepis Indica, also called Indian Hawthorn and occasionally Hong Kong Hawthorn. This variety of hawthorn is a smaller, slow-growing shrub that enjoys a more mild warm climate. Usually, when used in garden landscaping, it will stay at the height of 3-7 ft (91-213cm). This variety still produces attractive flowers in spring that can be pink or white. They grow best in USDA zones 7 to 10.

For both varieties of Hawthorn, it is recommended you plant the shrubs with 32 to 40 inches (80 to 100cm) spacing between each plant. You will also want them to be at least 36-38 inches (90-120cm) from any sidewalks or concrete surfaces. This is to prevent any root interference with the concrete slabs.

When do you plant a hawthorn hedge?

planting a hedge, gardening in spring

Since Hawthorn is a deciduous hedge, you will want to wait until mid-autumn or last winter to plant the shrubs. If there is a delay in planting, you can store the shrubs in a protected shed (preventing frost) and cover their roots with damp straw, paper, potting compost, or a plastic sheet. This prevents the roots from drying out entirely.

If you need to delay the planting, they can be temporarily planted very close together in a trench, with their roots covered in at least 20cm (8in) of soil.

Rhaphiolepis Indica variety does best when planted in the early spring or winter months. Some gardeners have had success in other times of the year, except for the summer months, which is not recommended for planting.

Both varieties of Hawthorn should be planted in full sun to reach full maturity and bloom. They like well-draining soil and are drought tolerant once established. Over pruning can stunt their growth and delay or prevent flowering.

The steps to planting hedges are listed below:

  • Make sure you pick a spot that is 36-38 inches (90-120cm) from any sidewalks or concrete surfaces.
  • Prep the soil. Dig a strip 2-3ft (60-90cm) wide and 48 inches (122cm) deep. Then form the soil into a ridge 6-8 inches (15-20cm) high, 20-28 inches (50-70cm) across to plant your shrubs into.
  • Space the plants 32-40 inches (80 to 100cm) apart.
  • Trim the roots to encourage healthy growth.
  • Spread the roots with your fingers, so it no longer resembles the container it was planted in.
  • Place the plants in the pre-dug holes.
  • Cover the plants with soil.
  • Mulch the top to prevent weed growth.
  • Make sure the plants are kept well watered for the next two years. Typically they take about seven years to fully mature.

How fast do hawthorn hedges grow?

The Crataegus Monogyna variety is reported to be a fast-growing hedge, growing a reported 15-23 inches (40-60 cm) per year, reaching anywhere from 15 to 50 feet tall when fully matured.

The Rhaphiolepis Indica variety is a very slow grower. Growing only about 11 inches (30 cm) per year.

Man uses hedge clippers to trim hedge in garden

You should not prune the tree excessively until it is close to maturity and well established. Pruning should happen in the winter months when it is dormant. Pruning during this time encourages new growth for spring. Once mature and established, hawthorns only need to be prune annually, which is why they make a great low-maintenance hedge choice.

For more information about pruning check out this article: When Should You Cut Back Hawthorn Trees?

How do you fill gaps in hawthorn hedge?

There are two options to fixing a gap in a hawthorn hedge. The easiest is to allow for shrubs established enough on either side of the opening to grow unpruned until they meet, then resume your annual pruning.

The other option is to replace the plant with the steps below.

  • Cut the shrubs in a V formation toward the gap. This ensures the newly transplanted shrub gets proper sunlight.
  • Prep the soil, dig your hole, and remove any old root balls or excess root growth from the other shrubs in the empty gap.
  • Add some compost into the hole to encourage faster growth.
  • Drop the new shrub into the hole, cover it with soil then be sure to fertilize the new shrub with a 10-10-10 fertilizer.
  • Cover with mulch to prevent weed growth.
  • Continue to keep the V formation trimmed for about six months to allow sunlight to penetrate the new shrub. Within one year, the new shrub should be established so you can allow the V formation to fill in again and trim accordingly.

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Benefits of Haws

The haw berries are found to be a rich source of polyphenols. These are antioxidant compounds that help our body neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals that can harm our bodies when they are present at high levels. The haw berries are thought to aid digestion, lower your risk for certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, asthma, certain infections, and heart issues.

Check out this Hawthorn extract supplement on Amazon.

Crataegus Monogyna has glossy green leaves and beautiful bunches of white flowers in Spring. They grow best in USDA zones 4-8. In the autumn months, the shrubs produce edible berries called haws. Haws are frequently used in jams, syrups, jellies and are even converted into supplements touting heart health benefits.

Red fruit of the hawthorn close-up. Crataegus, commonly called hawthorn, quickthorn, thornapple, May-tree, whitethorn, hawberry

Rhaphiolepis Indicaproduce edible berries that are very popular among many different bird species in the autumn and winter months, also touting heart-healthy benefits for humans. On Indian hawthorn, the berries are blue instead of red and are also present in the autumn and winter months. They are reported to have a tart taste and are commonly used for steeping in teas.

Pink inflorescence of Rhaphiolepis indica shrub

In Summary

The hawthorn shrub is an excellent addition to any garden or landscaping plan. Hawthorns are an easy plant to grown, very low maintenance with some surprising benefits with those berries! We hope all your questions about creating a hedge out of hawthorn shrubs have been answered, and you get out there and garden confidently with all the information we've supplied!

If you enjoyed this article, consider these for further reading:

Hawthorn Tree Not Flowering – What To Do?

How Long Do Hawthorn Trees Live?

Does Hawthorn Grow In Shade?