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Hornbeam (Carpinus Betulus) Hedge

Hainbuche (Carpinus Betulus)

Hainbuche (Carpinus Betulus), also known as European or common hornbeam, has mid-green foliage with deep veins and changes to gray brown in autumn. It is similar to the European beech, but its leaves have a more irregular surface. In late spring, catkins appear which later become small fruits and are fed on by birds. 

Hedges made from Hainbuche (Carpinus Betulus) make an excellent formal feature and also looks good when combined with other native plants to form a mixed display in a hedge.

Growing Hainbuche (Carpinus Betulus)

Hainbuche (Carpinus Betulus) can grow at a rate of 20-40cm a year and its recommended to maintain it at a height of 1.5-5m. One of the most interesting features of this hardy native plant is that it can be grown in a mixed native hedgerow for a colorful winter interest. Being a hardy variety, this plant is suited to many conditions.

Why you should grow a Hainbuche (Carpinus Betulus) hedge

This plant has many interesting features that you would want to see in your garden. Here are a few reasons for growing a European hornbeam hedge:

  • Grows well in many types of soil
  • Has beautiful autumn coloration
  • Protects your garden from noise and wind pollution
  • With maturity heights of up to 5m, Hainbuche (Carpinus Betulus) makes an excellent privacy screen
  • It shines when grown in mixed native packs
  • Hainbuche (Carpinus Betulus) hedging makes a fantastic formal feature
  • It is a great choice for locations that are struggling with poor soils such as chalk and clay
  • Although it’s similar to Beech hedging in many ways, they do well in wetter soils
  • It has winter leaves that display a more wild variety of dark, eye-catching tones
  • It makes an excellent noise barrier, windbreak and privacy screen
  • Provides an excellent habitat for wildlife, thus giving the hedge an additional interest
  • It clips beautifully; therefore, it’s best if used in a formal display
  • Only needs to be trimmed once a year
  • The English name hornbeam refers to the durability and hardiness of the wood

Where to grow

Long lived Carpinus Betulus is often grown as a hedge. It enjoys a lightly shaded or sunny spot and is also wonderful for creating a structure and shelter in the garden. Its leaves change to golden-brown in autumn. Being a versatile woodland tree, it prefers moist, well-drained soil. Most importantly, the soil should be fertile.

How to plant

Here are the steps you should follow to plant Carpinus Betulus correctly:

  1. Water the plant thoroughly in its clod before planting
  2. Choose a suitable planting area and get rid of weed to eliminate competition for nutrients and water
  3. Dig a trench twice the width and same height as the clod. Make sure that the bottom of the trench is level and the sides are straight
  4. Dig some compost into the base of the trench to supply the young plants with nutrients and allow the roots to penetrate the soil quickly and easily
  5. Backfill the trench with a mixture of compost and garden soil as you firm the soil around the plant’s root system
  6. Water the soil to settle around the roots of the plant
  7. Apply a layer of mulch around the plant, careful not to touch the trunk as this will cause rotting
  8. Water the plant thoroughly and keep it well-watered during the first year of growth


You can either trim a Carpinus Betulus hedge into a variety of shapes or you can leave it to take a bushy form for a more natural look. Either way, it looks great

Although it can grow in many types of soils, it is not suitable for coastal regions


Spacing is very important when you want to create a hedge. The spacing must be correct; otherwise, the hedge may not be as good as you want it to be. It is recommended that you plant two to three Carpinus Betulus plants per meter.

Care & Advice

  • Watering

It is important that you water the young plants deeply until they establish. Once they have established, they will only need supplemental watering during dry spells.

  • Mulching

Apply 4cm of mulch over the planting area to suppress weed and reduce the rate of water evaporation from the soil. However, make sure that the mulch is about 5cm away from the trunk of the tree to avoid rot.

  • Pruning

It is easy to keep Carpinus Betulus to a neat formal shape. You can also grow it in a mixed native hedge as its coppery leaves are the tree and they provide wildlife cover in winter. It is recommended to prune only once a year in late summer. This is important in helping the plant to retain its winter texture and color. Prune according to the shape you want to give it as well as how tall the tree has grown.

However, when you’ve planted the tree as a standalone, you don’t need to prune it. Its natural look is quite appealing when it’s left to grow on its own.

  • Fertilizer

Feed the Carpinus Betulus plants with an all-purpose fertilizer to promote growth. Follow the instructions in the pack when applying the fertilizer


  • Suitable for many types of soil
  • Has beautiful coloration in autumn
  • Reduces noise pollution and acts as windbreak
  • Can be trimmed into a variety of shapes
  • Its foliage makes a nesting site for birds
  • It can tolerate windy sites

Should I buy Carpinus Betulus for hedging?

Carpinus Betulus is a wonderful hedging plant for many reasons that we have discussed above. If you are looking for a hedge plant that will offer seasonal interest then you should choose Carpinus Betulus as it has glossy green foliage that changes to a coppery color in autumn.

It also grows up to a height of 5m, which makes it a perfect privacy screen for reducing noise and preventing wind from entering your home or garden. You can also trim this species or leave it to grow into a bushy and more naturalistic form. So, it is safe to say that this is one of the best hedge plants out there