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Fagus Sylvatica: Garden Hedge Tree

Rotbuche (Fagus Sylvatica)/ European Beech

Rotbuche (Fagus Sylvatica) also known as European Beech is a hedging plant native to the United Kingdom. In spring, the plant displaysbrilliant, fluttery foliagethat fade slightly before the summer. In autumn, the plant displays stunning shades of brown and coppery orange.

The Rotbuche (Fagus Sylvatica) grows relatively fast, at a rate of 30-60cm a year. It is therefore important to trim this plant every year in early autumn or late spring. Generally, the European beech should be pruned in spring.

Growing the European Beech

The European beech is suitable for a formal hedge. It will look decorative in autumn and give your garden a lot of color. In addition, they are popular with birds as they provide shelter. A Fagus Sylvatica hedge will also make your garden look lively.

Why you should grow a European beech hedge

There are many reasons as to why you should consider growing a European beech. Here are a few advantages:

  • European beech has a wide range of benefits that include screening and privacy properties, noise and wind reduction as well as the ability to be grown as formal hedge or it could be left for a more natural look
  • While waiting for the flowers to appear in spring, the bright green foliage of this plant will make your garden livelier as the leaves flutter in windy conditions
  • It’s commonly known for its beautiful autumn color with the green leaves turning to a glowing copper color
  • Since it is a native species, it will grow in many planting locations and can tolerate the harsh British weather
  • Although European beech is a deciduous variety, provided it’s pruned on time, the new growth will appear before the plant becomes dormant. This new growth is retained throughout winter
  • It grows well in full sun and partial shade, making it the right hedge plant for smaller gardens that don’t get enough sun exposure
  • It can be planted at any time of the year. You don’t have to wait until the bare root season in November
  • The plant also has wildlife value as the dense foliage makes a fantastic shelter for hedgehogs and nesting birds

Where to grow

European beech will grow well in many types of soils and is tolerant to shade. The plant appreciates moist well-drained soils. But it dislikes waterlogged soils. It can also grow in full sun to partial shade as well as inland, exposed and coastal sites.

How to plant

It is important that you plant European beech properly to ensure that it establishes quickly and grows into a healthy, good-looking hedge. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Water the plant deeply in its clod before planting
  2. Find a suitable planting location and remove weed and other debris in the area
  3. Dig a trench twice the width and same height as the clod and ensure that the sides of the trench are straight
  4. Loosen the soil at the base of the trench and mix in some compost
  5. Position the clod in the trench and ensure that the top of the clod does not protrude above the ground surface level
  6. Fill the trench with a mixture of compost and garden soul as you firm with your feet or hands
  7. Water the soil to settle around the roots
  8. Apply a layer of mulch around the planting area
  9. Water deeply


Water the plant deeply during the first growing season

You can order and plant European beech at any time of the year


Spacing is crucial when it comes to creating a hedge. You need to get the spacing right for the hedge to form as quickly as possible. Planting too far means it will take a longer time before a hedge forms whereas planting too close will cause overcrowding. The recommended spacing distance for the European beech is two to three plants per meter.

Care & Advice

  • Watering

You need to water European beech deeply during the first growing season, during dry seasons and in late fall before the soil freezes. You can use a hose or run drip irrigation 20-30 minutes every week whenever the ground is dry. Older, already established trees will only require watering during severe drought

  • Mulching

Mature beeches usually spread wide that they spread a large area. Since this plant is covered with many shallow, fibrous feeding roots that protrude above the ground, it basically means that the soil around the tree cannot support other plants. Apply a 5cm layer of organic mulch to retain moisture in the soil and suppress the growth of weed

  • Fertilizing

Feed European beeches once every year. Sprinkle the fertilizer on the soil under the plant a few centimeters away from the trunk. Don’t allow the fertilizer to touch the trunk of the tree and its leaves.

  • Pruning

Although European beeches don’t require pruning, they can tolerate hard pruning and can be trimmed into a variety of shapes. The best time for trimming is in fall. If you want to train European beeches as a hedge, you will want to plant the trees at the spacing distance we have recommended above and cut back by half. Allow them to grow for a whole season without pruning further. Prune lightly each year to get the desired shape or size


  • Wide range of benefits including screening & privacy properties
  • Brings life to your garden with its bright green foliage
  • Has beautiful autumn color
  • Grows in different planting locations

Should I buy European beech for hedging purposes?

Yes, there are many good reasons as to why you should grow a European beech hedge. First, it provides excellent privacy and screening to your garden which protects you against noise pollution and wind. In addition, the plant can grow well in full sun and partial shade, not to forget the fact that it only needs to be trimmed once a year.

The plant can tolerate harsh weather conditions which makes it the ideal plant for growing in cold conditions. So, we can confidently recommend European beech for hedging in your garden.