Having stables built at your home is a wonderful way to both enhance your lifestyle experience as well as add value to the property. But making sure it all goes smoothly requires a little planning and some thought about what you want to achieve. It also needs some clear thinking around the impact of what you’re doing on the local area.
The first thing you need to do before you get down to building your stables is check if you need any kind of planning permission from the local government. And if you’re in a position where you have neighbours, tell them about your plans. They may need to be aware of upcoming disruption, and even the presence of animals.
The need for hedges | For perhaps obvious reasons, hedging plants around the stables are a matter of safety. The safety of the horses as well as people outside the stables is a huge factor when creating such an enclosure. The horses need to be happy and protected, and the environment and people who are outside the development need to be kept safe from animals.
There are other aspects to having hedges too. For example, during the winter your horses will need some form of shelter from the high winds. A strong hedging line will provide the protection they need.
Many owners of stables use hedges to divide up the land, with hedges often acting as natural ‘walls’ between fields and the stables.
Generally speaking, a hedge should also be around 6 ft high. The height is an important consideration, and it may need to be higher depending on the nature of the horse or horses you keep. For example, if you were to keep a stallion, a higher hedge makes sense.
The hedges | The standard hedge that is often used in home stables is the Hawthorn hedge. This variety is not an evergreen, but at the same time it is very easy to look after. It also looks fantastic and, with good care, can be a real asset to your property while fulfilling its role.
Hawthorn can grow tall and thick so you have some options here as regards height. It’s also non-dangerous to horses, which is not always something you can say about hedges. It’s tough too, so it’s a great and hardy solution to the problem of stable hedging.
Field Maple is also a high quality hedging plant, and it does offer the same kind of hardiness that Hawthorne can. However, it has been shown to have a little toxicity with some horses. It may be worthwhile avoiding this or testing it for a couple of days to see what effect it has.
Hornbeam is a popular hedge variety, and one of the best things about it is the aesthetic appeal it has. It gives a lovely bushy effect, and this softens the hedge overall. It’s very hardy too, so while it may seem softer, it is more than strong enough to protect the horses.
Western Red Cedar has a very pleasing look, with sprays of a bright green colour being the main characteristic. It also makes for a perfect screening hedge, great for stables.
Yew is perhaps the closest thing to Hawthorn when it comes to all-round hardiness and impact. It looks a little too wild for some people, but has a very dese visual impact, and grows to become a great tall hedge.
How to install it | Installing a hedge line is not necessarily difficult, but it does need some clear preparation and planning beforehand. If the following steps are missed, you could well end up with a hedge that is more trouble than it’s worth.
Watch – How to Plant a Country Hedge:
Step 1: Plot a straight and even line (as in running over even ground) along the border of the property where the hedge is to run. The key thing here is the even ground aspect.
Step 2: Choose the hedge variety, and make sure that several bulbs of the hedge are bought.
Step 3: Prepare the line by removing any weeds that are present. Then ensure that you till the ground with care, so that you have the best possible surface.
Step 4: Along the line, lay 10cm of fertiliser soil or compost.
Step 5: Now it’s time to plant the bulbs. Plant them so that they have a distance between of around 1.2 metres. They should enter the soil at a depth of around 7.5 centimetres.
Step 6: Buy some mulch and lay it along the hedge line at a depth of around 5 cm. Then water the hedge line you have created. This will allow the soil and the mulch to settle in.
Step 7: As your hedge grows and takes shape, water it a few times during the week, and use fertiliser twice a year. Prune and shape the hedges at least once a year.
You can also buy instant hedging from most suppliers. This comes in troughs and is ready to install immediately. And because it is instant, it’s all shaped and ready to add visual appeal, as well as provide security, and a border for the stables.
What to avoid | Holly is well known as a hedge that can cause problems for horses. While it’s not true that all horses suffer when eating Holly, many do react to the toxicity in the bush. This can lead to stomach upsets in the animals, and that will at the very least leave you with unhappy horses.
You can find a list of bushes and plants to avoid for horses here.
Hawthorn is the best answer | We fully recommend the Hawthorn hedge setup, simply because it looks great, and is robust enough to stop the animals from causing any problems. With a little planning and a focus on real design, you can have a safe, attractive stables environment through the use of strong and attractive hedging.
Julien de Bosdari is the owner of Ashridge Trees, a mail order plant nursery specialising in hedging, trees, fruits, roses and shrubs. They deliver across mainland UK.