Frans Fontaine Hornbeam Planted - Hedgerow Spring 2018

Yesterday, I shared a photo of our eight Frans Fontaine European Hornbeam 2.5" caliper trees that had been delivered.  These trees were a long-time coming and we've been planning, talking and thinking about them for almost a year.  Today, the trees went in!  Here's the guys digging the holes and placing the trees in the holes to check for placement and spacing.  We ended up going with six feet of spread between each one and 30" away from the fence.

You can tell from the photo above that they are going into a low spot and that our neighbor's to the north truck and garage are pretty visible (right now) from the top of our property.

Here's three of the eight placed in their holes.  Once we were all happy with the placement, the burlap and rope were removed (well...the bottom of the burlap was left on because our landscaper prefers to keep the rootball intact, but the top of the burlap was cut off and all the rope was removed) and these trees were stuck back in the ground.

This shot below gives you a sense for the spacing versus the fence and part of our house.  It is a tight area, but one that really was screaming for screening plants.  These Frans Fontaine Hornbeams were selected for exactly that reason - their habit will be a perfect fit.

The trees are leafing out, but will still get more dense over the coming weeks, so while you can get a sense for some of the screening they're providing now, they'll be even thicker as the leaves get bigger.

Here's an overview of five of the eight trees.  This shows the spacing.  Are they a hedge right now?  Nope.  That's obviously not ideal, but if we planted these any closer together they'd grow right into each other.  This way, we're playing for the future and with careful feeding and watering, I'm hoping that these not only shoot up a bit in the coming few seasons, but also fill out from side-to-side so the gaps go from about four feet down to two feet or so.  Then, with time, they'll fill in completely. 

This shot is the first one that shows the finished bed.  After planting, the crew edged and mulched the bed.  Looks really nice and per the landscape plan, I'll be planting some hostas in below these trees in the beds.

Here's another perspective on some of the trees and the newly created bed.  To the left of this photo, you'll see a small Cleveland Pear (flowering) tree followed by a spot of orange color - that's our new Azaela.  They're both surrounded by grass right now, but the plan calls for this bed to extend all the way down there.

Here's the other three Frans Fontaine Hornbeams - these are the ones that will provide the screening for our screened porch.  I'll baby them with water and food and *fingers crossed*, they'll flourish here and provide us with screening for years to come.  I'm expecting to want to 'limb up' these trees, but for the first two growing seasons, I'm not going to touch them.

We could have planted Chanticleer flowering Pear trees or some other columnar tree, but we waited (and paid more!) for these and I'm really pleased with the decision.

And, for those keeping track at home, these mark the 21st tree we've planted in our yard since we moved in.  21!  Reforestation is what I'm now calling it and while it is going to take time and effort, if we stick to it, the longer we live here the more we'll have trees all around us.

Here's the list of twenty-one trees as part of Hornbeam Hills reforestation project:

1. Flowering Pear in backyard on north side.
2. Flowering Pear in front yard by garage.
3. Japanese flowering cherry
4 and 5: 2 Lindens that I espalier'd
6. A Dawn Redwood from Earth Day 2017
7. Nat's Saucer Magnolia in our front yard
8. A Corkscrew Willow all the way in the back
9. A Crimson King Norway Maple near the trampoline
10. Another flowering pear from Earth Day 2018
11. Red Maple Sun Valley tree from Earth Day 2018.
12.  Weeping Cedar tree - our first evergreen.
13.  The weeping flowering cherry tree that the Babe planted for Earth Day 2018.
14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21.  These Frans Fontaine Hornbeams.  


  1. What a great diary you have! I was researching how to plant American Hornbeams and founds one of your posts... Then I started to read other posts and learned so much! Me and my wife moved to NC and are learning how to garden, and I must say I am learning much more from you than from books I read... thank you! Cheers from a fan!

  2. Do you have any 2020 updates and pictures? I have my eye on these trees. Loving the progress updates.

  3. Nice work. I planted 6 of these spaced out 5 feet apart in June and in 3 months they have already grown over 1-2 feet. Did you happen to trim the top during its first growing season?

    1. We haven't pruned or trimmed our trees at all. In all four (18,19,20,21) growing seasons. If you head to this post and scroll down, you can see what our trees look like right now. No pruning, no trimming, no limb'ing up.

      The arborist who treats our other trees in the yard advised that we just leave the Hornbeams alone for a while. No doses of liquid fertilizer (like our other mature trees), no pruning, no trimming. Just staying on top of watering. Not sure if that's the right advice for everyone, but it has worked out for us.

  4. I must say I have just read the whole journey with these Hornbeams and we have just purchased x4 (Lucas) hornbeams to hide a fence area, I initially purchased Western red cedars, but fear they won’t be resilient to this area in the midlands U.K. during summer. We already have hostas and I’m thinking of splitting some and planting next to the Hornbeams… really great looking garden/trees and thanks for the inspiration,, god bless from over the pond.
    Stephen W

  5. We just purchased 4 Fran’s Fontaine hornbeams and I am SO excited at seeing the success you’ve had with them! We also debated about getting Chanticleer Pear trees instead but there is something magical about the Hornbeam. Looking forward to having a hedge in a few years! Thanks for the inspo.


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