June 19 2013 Latest news:
Martyn Davey, Head of Horticulture and Design, Easton College
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Question: I am having some leylandii hedging removed from my back garden as it has become diseased. The hedges are approximately eight feet tall and three feet wide at the base and are about 30 years old. Once they are removed I would like to restore the fertility of the soil. What is the best method of doing this? One hedge is south facing and I would like to be able to grow some cordon fruit trees against fencing in this part of the garden after the leylandii have been removed. (Mr M Cary, Norwich)
The most important thing will be to remove the stumps from the soil. This will take some serious digging as they have very fibrous roots and will go deep. Any woody material left could cause disease and will take up nutrients to rot them down. To improve the soil add a large quantity of organic matter – this can be horse manure, farmyard manure, good garden compost or mushroom compost. You may want to look at the possibility of getting a bulk delivery of municipal green waste which will help to improve the soil and add nutrients. Personally I would go for the spent mushroom compost as this is slightly alkaline and will help to redress the balance of pH.
The best way of incorporating this compost would be to dig it in by hand but you may choose to hire a large rotorvator and mix it in with that. Consider growing a green manure on the sight for the summer, mustard, peas or clover will all help to put nutrients back into the soil and can be dug in to the soil in the autumn.
Wait until the autumn to plant your fruit trees as they will establish best if they are planted in October or November rather than now.