Hedgerows are a haven for all sorts of wildlife and are commonly spotted in the UK at the side of the road, railways and footpaths, bordering fields and in gardens.
During the last few decades, our hedgerows have been destroyed at an alarming rate by intensive farming, which destroys important habitat for small animals, birds, butterflies and bees.
What Are Hedgerow Plants?
It’s thought that the first Bronze Age farmers needed to clear wooded areas to create a vast expanse for their farming endeavours. What was left were the first examples of what we recognise as hedgerows, and they can still be found today. These living historical specimens, often make the best habitats for wildlife.
Hedges can come in all different shapes and sizes, ranging from narrow lines of finely trimmed bushes to thick, tangled masses overlooked by mature trees. Different types of hedges can provide song posts, shelter and nesting habitats for a variety of woodland and farmland birds. While the berries, nectar, nuts and leaves provide a crucial food source for the birds, as well as small mammals and a range of insects.
As we’ve mentioned, some hedgerow plants may be up to 4,000 years old, but many hedges are medieval in origin and are often tapered off at the each end, this was because it left room for a team of oxen to turn a plough. Miles of hedgerow like this was planted during the 18th and 19th centuries to protect fields from communal farming and trespassing.
These younger hedges are commonly straight and dominated by Hawthorn. The inclusion of spindle, field maple and hazel dogwood indicate either an even older hedge or one that has been planted very recently to encourage wildlife.
Conservation: What Can We Do?
Since the Second World War, hedgerows have been uprooted at a much faster pace than they are being planted. In some parts of the UK, as much as 50% of hedgerows have been removed.
Most of what remains has been poorly managed and left exposed to spray drift, which leaves hedges that are unable to support most kinds of wildlife.
While it may seem all doom and gloom, there is hope on the horizon. Many concerned gardeners are making conscious efforts to plant hedgerow in their gardens. Hedgelaying is a practice best carried out at the same time as you’d plant bare rooted trees, around mid to late winter.
Why Should I Plant Hedgerow Plants?
Attracting Bees, Birds, Butterflies and Other Insects to Your Garden
The overwhelming reason to plant a hedge in your garden is to attract bees, birds, butterflies and other little critters to your garden to help them thrive.
Bees, butterflies and other pollinators are in rapid decline, yet without them, our crops, flowers and plants can’t thrive. By planting even a small section of hedgerow, you’re certainly making a difference.
Hedgerow plants offer wind protection for your garden. Unlike walls and fences, which deflect wind upward creating turbulence, a hedge creates a filter and provides better air circulation and along with it the formation of a sheltered micro-climate. This benefits the garden because the warmer soil improves growing conditions.
All hedges require some kind of maintenance, but the same can be said of fences, which need to be painted and replaced. So, when you think of the cost, the aesthetic appeal and the environmental benefits, a hedge is much better option.
How to Plant Hedgerow Plants – Step-by-Step
- Prepare the ground well in advance by clearing all the weeds up to at least 30cms on both sides of where the hedgeline will be.
- Dig a trench, we recommend digging in a zig-zag pattern to ensure a thicker and deeper hedge.
- Then puncture the bottom and the sides of the trench with a garden fork, so the roots have a better chance of establishing. Rootballed and bare root plants will require a ditch at least twice as wide as the root system.
- Enrich the soil with organic matter or blend Bonemeal into the soil you’re planning to use to refill the trench.
- Use some string to mark a straight line and cut some canes to size to ensure each plant is spaced evenly.
- Water the plants and give them time to drain, also filling the planting hole with water and allowing it to drain away is also a good idea – lots of water is key to the plants survival at this stage.
- If you’re using pot plants, gently remove them from the pot and plant them at the same depth into the trench as they were in the pot. In the case of rootballed and bareroot plants, plant up to where the main stem is beginning to dry – this is where they were previously planted up to.
- It’s critical to firm up the soil to remove any air pockets, as this is how frost damage is caused.
- Water each plant with one full watering can for each plant (a little more for plants over one metre tall).
- Cover with a layer of mulch to stop weeds from establishing, which suck up valuable moisture and nutrients from the soil. It’s essential to regularly water the plants until they are well established.
Hedgerow Plants at Trees Direct
At Trees Direct we grow and supply hedging plants and hedgerow to help those who wish to aid our environment and our increasingly threatened wildlife. We have seen intensive farming during the last few decades, which has seen a good portion of our natural hedgerows destroyed.
This creates a shortage of food and habitat for small animals, birds, bees, butterflies and insects. By purchasing our hedgerow by the metre, you’re helping to restore some of our native habitats.
Hedgerows are relied upon by our native critters all over the UK, and we believe wholeheartedly in trying to restore a natural balance which has been tipped in favour of human progress.
If you have any questions about hedgerows or any of our other products, why not contact us on 01584 380 001 to take advantage of our free advice line.