Hornbeam Carpinus betulus

British Grown
Volume 1-2 3-9 10+
Price per plant £42.00 £37.80 £33.60
Price £42.00
British Grown
Volume 1-2 3-9 10+
Price per plant £67.20 £54.00 £44.40
Price £67.20
British Grown
Volume 1-2 3-9 10+
Price per plant £108.00 £90.00 £78.00
Price £108.00
British Grown
Volume 1+
Price per plant £48.00
Price £48.00
British Grown
Volume 1+
Price per plant £108.00
Price £108.00
Volume 1+
Price per plant £600.00
Price £600.00
British Grown
Volume 1+
Price per plant £230.00
Price £230.00
British Grown
Volume 1-9 10-49 50-249 250+
Price per plant £2.52 £1.44 £1.08 £0.72
Price £2.52
British Grown
Volume 1-9 10-49 50-249 250+
Price per plant £2.77 £1.58 £1.19 £0.79
Price £2.77
British Grown
Volume 1-9 10-49 50-249 250+
Price per plant £3.19 £1.82 £1.37 £0.91
Price £3.19
British Grown
Volume 1-9 10-49 50-249 250+
Price per plant £6.38 £3.65 £2.74 £1.82
Price £6.38
British Grown
Volume 1-9 10-49 50-249 250+
Price per plant £8.15 £4.66 £3.49 £2.33
Price £8.15
British Grown
Volume 1-9 10-49 50-249 250+
Price per plant £6.12 £5.40 £4.50 £3.60
Price £6.12

All prices include VAT

Product description



Hornbeam a native large tree though probably only truly native in the South and East of England as one of the last of the species to arrive from continental Europe.  A tree with a maximum height of 25m (80ft) though often less, it is upright when young but eventually forms a rounded elongated head.  The leaves are oval and similar in size and form to Beech though with more prominent veins and rougher to the touch.

Where to grow

Hornbeam will grow well in full sun or shade.  It will quite happily cope with damp or wet soils, and even with a certain amount of temporary waterlogging, making it a suitable alternative to Beech in such situations.

It stands up well to hard pruning, has dense foliage and has been used more for hedges and topiary than as a woodland tree.

Did you know?

Hornbeam is a hard, heavy and tough timber with a number of uses, it can be pollarded, used as hedging and makes good firewood.

Possibly the most interesting use of this hard bony timber is for the intricate parts of pianos which convey the movement of the keys to the hammer.

Mature height
Very Large - 20 metres+
15-20 meters
Round Headed
Growth rate
Soil type
All soil types
Sun levels
Full sun
Partial shade
Difficulty/hard to grow
Season of interest
Autumn colour
Early to Leaf
Small leaves
Native Hedge
Holds its leaves
Moisture levels
Wet/Water logged sites
Good for Windy sites
Parkland Tree
Garden Tree
City/Urban Sites
Used for Pleaching
Good Firewood
Timber producing
Wind break
Suitable for Topiary
Sound Barrier


Pruning Carpinus betulus

Tree: Carpinus betulus (hornbeam) is a fast growing upright tree, rounding with age. Prune out any stems that are crossing or damaged, but otherwise no pruning is necessary. If needed to control size, it will generally respond well to hard pruning.

Hedge: Allow the hedge to grow to the required height and then prune annually to maintain shape. Hedges are usually grown up to a width of about 2ft (60cm), often with a slight taper so the bottom is wider.

Handheld pruning shears or secateurs will allow you to cut stems and avoid cutting through leaves, but may not be practical to use on a large hedge. A piece of string tied between two canes can help you to cut a straight line.

The upper part of the hedge tends to be more vigorous and will therefore need heavier pruning than the lower part.

When should I prune? Trees can be pruned from late summer through to midwinter. Avoid taking off branches earlier in the year as this can lead to bleeding. 

For the continued healthy growth of your trees, shrubs or hedging it is vital that you follow the advice below.


The main reason that plants die within 12 months of having been planted is lack of water.  It is essential throughout the spring and summer, to give a heavy enough watering to enable the water to penetrate right down to the deepest root level of the tree.  In hot dry spells give the equivalent of 2 bucketfuls every three days.

Weed Control

One of the most common causes of lack of water is competition from grass.  When trees are first establishing, the grass roots would be at the same level as the tree roots and are far more efficient at taking up water and thus choke the tree.  It is vital for 3 years after planting that your tree or hedge has a circle or strip one  metre wide completely free of grass.  The way to eliminate grass in order of effectiveness is:

  1. Spray off the grass with a glyphosate based weed killer such as Roundup.  Apply each year for the first 3 years.  It is best applied when the tree is dormant as it is absorbed through green leaves and kills the plant off at the roots.
  2. Firmly fit a mulch mat around the base of the tree by tucking the edges into the soil and put a thick layer of bark mulch on top of this.  This can be done after the initial spraying with glyphosate and should avoid the need for further spraying.

Mowing or strimming is NOT an answer to the problem.  Each time you mow, the grass will grow back more vigorously and strimming invariably leads to lacerated trunks.


If trees are not correctly secured they will rock in the planting pit. Roots not firmly in contact with the soil are unable to take up moisture and nutrients, resulting in die back or death of the tree.  Check, particularly after windy weather, that stakes are still solidly in the ground keeping the base of the trunk firm.  The purpose of the stakes is to anchor the roots.   Flexing in the wind, higher up the trunk, is not necessarily a problem if the roots are firm.

Bellow is list of the correct system to use to secure your trees.

  • 40/60, 60/80, 80/100 whips - Unless rabbit/deer problem no need to stake.
  • 100/125, 125/150  1.2m Cane and Easi tie.
  • 150/175  1.2m square stake and a buckle tie and spacer.
  • 175/250, 6/8, 8/10 15L 1.65 Tree stake and a buckle tie and spacer.
  • All larger trees. 2 x 1.65 Tree stake and cross rail with 38mm cushion spacer and 1m of 38mm strapping.


Always use our recommended tree ties or strapping.  These are designed and manufactured with the correct amount of give to hold the tree firm without strangling it. They should be checked at the end of each growing season for adjustment as the trunk thickens.  Non proprietary materials such as baler twine will cut into the bark and should not be used.

Protection from Animal Damage

Rabbits, deer, sheep, cattle and horses can all potentially damage trees.  Ask us for advice on the most appropriate guards for your trees or hedge.  Squirrels are also a terrible pest when trees get to about 20ft tall but there is no protection available.


By andy harris on 25/05/2015

I would like to buy young hornbeam trees that I can pleach into a low ‘aerial hedge’.  No more than 2.2m tall in all. What tree size would you recommend and are you able to supply and deliver trees of. Insistent height with straight stems? Thanks.

By Simon on 05/06/2015

Hello Andy,

Yes we have some nice 10/15L trees that would fit those requirements. If you send me an e-mail with the quantites you are after I can get you a price including delivery.

Kind regards,


By Margaret Waggott on 18/06/2015

Hi, I have a garden fence that I would like to plant a hornbeam hedge in front of.  I am looking for an instant hedge -  probably each plant being about 6 feet tall.  How far apart shound they be planted.  The width of garden is 20 meters. Thank you

By Simon on 24/06/2015

Hello Margaret,

If you are planting them already 6ft tall you would normally plant in a single row with 50-70cm between the plants depending on how instant you wanted the effect.

By Alex on 04/08/2015

Hi I am looking to raise the height of a garden wall by pleaching hornbeams across the top. Looking for instant privacy, the area to cover is about 4.6m wide and would like it to be approx 4-5ft tall. What would you recommend?


By Simon on 10/08/2015

Hello Alex,

The 10/15 litre pot size would probably be best for your purposes.

By Tegan on 25/02/2016

Hi I am looking to screen out a stadium at the end of the garden which is about 25ft from the house. How close can I plant horn beams without risk of damage to my foundations? Thanks

By Simon on 26/02/2016

Dear Tegan,

The effect of tree roots on structures depends on many factors including soi type and construction of the house. As a rule of thumb, roots tend to spread out sideways as far as the tree is tall - as a very rough guide. If you are concerned about the effect of a tree on your house, it is worth planting at least half the ultimate height of the tree away from the house. Hornbeam can reach 50-80ft, assuming you are growing it as a tree and not a hedge.

By David Attewell on 01/03/2016

I have just purchased 5 carpinus-betulus trees from you, with the intention of pleaching them from a height of 2.1 metres. The trees I purchesed were about 3.5m high with branches down to ground level. At what point do I cut the branches off to the required height? As the roots have a lot of growing to do, my instinct is to leave them on for at least a year, if not more, to allow the roots to establish themselves. Also two of the trees have no leaves on them, I understand that if you prune them in late summer, it will encourage the leaves to stay on over winter, which is why I selected this particular tree. Please advise.


By Simon on 27/05/2016

Hello David,

I should take the unwanted branches off as soon as possible - the wounds will heal best if taken off the main stem while young. As long as there are plenty of leaves left on the top part of the tree it should do no harm. As for the leaves remaining on the tree, you are right, it is the juvenile leaves which hang on best, so trim in mid-late summer.

By P. Dubery on 30/07/2016

How many 3L pot size Hornbeam Hedge plants do I need to cover 5 metres length of garden

By Simon on 03/08/2016

For hornbeam hedging with 3L pots, use 4 plants per metre in a double staggered row, with plants spaced about 45cm apart. So, you would need 20 plants. If you don’t have space for a double row, then you can plant in a single row with 3 plants per metre, so, 15 plants. The same planting pattern works with the bare root whips.

By Tim on 19/08/2016

I am considering planting a Hornbeam hedge a little over 2 meters away from a building foundation (running parallel to each other). If the height of the hedge is kept in check, say around 1.2 meters, are the roots of Hornbeam likely to be an issue?


By Simon on 23/08/2016

Dear Tim,

A hedge of 1.2m height should present few problems in terms of root spread. The roots will not spread as far as they would if the plants were allowed to grow into a tree. However, if you are concerned about the foundations of a building then I would consult a surveyor as there are numerous factors involved in the interaction between trees and buildings.

By Paula Holme on 23/11/2016

We have a space in front of a wall with a fence above on ground higher than our garden and want to plant trees to pleach from approx a metre upwards so they will hide the fence but we can see the old wall. The length of the space is 12.5 metres.We would like to plant bare root trees. How many would we need?

By Simon on 23/11/2016

Hello Paula,

I would put six trees in this length, trained on a framework. The trees will branches most of the way down then stem, so you can clean this up to the required height.

By Jane Aldridge on 01/02/2017

Hello. We are looking to plant a hedge of hornbeam on our field boundary and would like your advice on what other plants to mix in with them to create variety?

By Simon on 03/02/2017

Hello Jane,

I think hornbeam looks best on its own as a formal hedge, but if you are looking for a mixed hedge of native species then we recommend 60% hawthorn and up to four other species from our countryside/wildlife range (see https://www.chewvalleytrees.co.uk/products/category/Countryside-wildlife-hedging). Spindle, dogwood and field maple give lots of autumn colour, plus food for the birds. Guelder rose is also very attractive. We base our mix on 4 plants per metre, planted in a double staggered row. The best time to plant is during the bare root season, November-March, when all of these are available. Hornbeam is available in containers year-round, but this is more expensive than bare root plants.

By Sarah on 22/02/2017

I would like to plant an hornbeam hedge against a 6ft high fence. The fence is about 8 metres wide. I would like it to mature as quickly as possible and am wondering whether whips or plants would best achieve this. Please can you advise which would be best and how many I would need to purchase, thank you

By Simon on 01/03/2017

Hello Sarah,

How tall do you want the hedge to get to? For instant impact, you could buy plants that are already taller than the fence, but it’s true that smaller plants tend to establish more quickly. Taller plants (125cm+) also need caning or staking to support them. You can plant hedging whips at either 3 per metre in a single row (8m x 3 = 24 plants) or 4 per metre (32 plants) in a double staggered row, with about 45cm between rows. Feel free to email us pictures and requirements, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

By Simon on 24/08/2017

I am looking to plant a line of trees that would grow to 3 to 4 meters to act as a screen. ideally to have a similar shape to the hornbeam. or a nice singe trunk with a round head that is no more than 2m diameter. something nice and ornamental. what do you recommend?

By Simon on 01/09/2017

Hello Simon,

Have you looked at Portuguese laurel (https://www.chewvalleytrees.co.uk/products/detail/prunus-lusitanica) and Photinia Red Robin (https://www.chewvalleytrees.co.uk/products/detail/photinia-x-fraseri-red-robin1)?

If you are not too far away, it’s well worth coming into the nursery to browse the trees we have in stock.

Reviews, Comments and Questions

Your data will be used to display your comment, get in touch if you'd like to edit/remove it. You can find out more details in our Privacy Policy.