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Hedging pines: characteristics
Hedge pines are thick and robust plants belonging to various species of conifers. Some, like the larch, the fir and the cedar, are part of the pinaceae family; others are cupressaceae shrubs, such as the Leyland cypress. These trees are commonly referred to by the generic term "hedge pines", from which however real pines are excluded; the particular shape of the pine tree, in fact, is not suitable for the creation of hedges. THE hedge pines they are characterized by a fast growth and a thick and wide foliage which strongly limits the visibility; these plants also resist pests, fungal diseases, pollution and adverse climatic factors. Their dense foliage and their particular robustness allow the creation of very solid barriers that contain wind and noise: in this sense, these shrubs are the ideal choice to delimit or enclose a space and protect the privacy of the home and garden.
Hedge pines: the most widespread species
THE hedge pines they can belong to different species: the most widespread are the cypress, the larch and the fir. The larch belongs to the pineaceae family: from the characteristic "pyramid" shape, it has a height that exceeds 30 meters and resists very well to intense cold, wind and frost. For this reason, larch hedges are usually used as windbreak barriers in areas with a very rigid climate. Another species much appreciated for the construction of tall and thick hedges is the fir of Canada, also called "tsuga": this shrub about 30 meters high has a dense and thick foliage composed of needles with an intense dark green color. Of this species there is also a "dwarf" variant that reaches a maximum height of two meters: very resistant to cold, this type of plant is used in the composition of ornamental and dividing barriers. The most widespread conifer for hedges, however, is the Leyland cypress: its dense and compact foliage, in fact, is able to ensure the best protection from noise, wind and prying eyes.
Hedge pines: cultivation
Hedge pines take root easily on any type of soil: for this reason it is not necessary to fertilize them at the time of planting. The hedge should be planted in spring or autumn by placing the plants at a distance of about one meter from each other: in this way it is possible to leave enough space for the foliage and roots to expand in freedom. Thanks to their great adaptability, hedge pines can be exposed to both shade and full sun. It is very important to regularly prune the foliage to encourage thickening and always keep the hedge at the desired height. The soil must have a good drainage system to avoid the risk of damaging water stagnation: for this purpose, during planting it is useful to lighten the substrate by mixing a certain amount of sand or other material to the soil. Irrigation must be accurate and regular only in the first period after planting: in the first year, in fact, the hedge requires abundant watering every two or three days. Rainwater is usually sufficient for the needs of adult conifers.
Hedge pines: diseases
Hedge pines have a strong resistance to pests and diseases: however, under certain conditions, even these shrubs can be vulnerable. A moist, heavy and insufficiently drained soil can give rise to harmful water stagnation and cause the onset of rot and fungal diseases. One of the most insidious diseases is, in this sense, the so-called "basal rot", caused by a fungus that attacks the roots. The action of this pathogen leads to a gradual deterioration of the plant and is detectable by the withering of the leaves. The hedges formed by Leyland cypresses are often affected by a disease known as "cypress cancer": to determine it is a fungal agent that infests the bark and branches. To counter the onset of these diseases, the only solution is represented by a preventive strategy that involves infrequent watering and careful disinfection of nursery equipment. The parts of the hedge already affected by the infection must be pruned and then carefully disinfected.