Planting a hedgerow

Imagine a fence which provides food, shelter and doorways to other gardens!


Image via Wikipedia

That’s exactly what a hedge is! Blackbirds and sparrows to name but a few, love to skulk around a nice dense hedge layer. The thick, inter-twined branches create an excellent habitat for birds to shelter, as well as nest and find foodstuffs such as caterpillars and other invertebrates. At ground-level, species such as wood mice, hedgehogs and even toads can be found, either foraging or sheltering in the leaf litter. Looking after your hedge will provide a safe ‘wildlife corridor’ for many species to travel from one part of the garden to another.

Hedgerow Plants

Unless your hedge runs alongside a stream or is on the slightly moist or boggy side, the soil at the base might seem poor and unable to support much in the way of plant life. Make sure you check which side of your hedge gains the most sunlight too, as this will determine what plants will prosper in this area. If you want to establish a variety of hedgerow plants along the base of your hedge then try to buy, strong, well-developed seedlings as small, less developed plants have weaker roots and will struggle if you have poor soil. Another trick is to not plant taller or stronger growing plants, such as honeysuckle or clematis, next to younger shrubs and trees as they might well strangle them if not kept in check. Always plant a mixture of at least 5 species of trees, including evergreens as it provides food and shelter and varying canopy heights all year round to a wider array of species. Take a look at our Trees and Shrubs guide to give you an idea of what to plant. In the meantime, here’s a few ideas!

Herb Robert

Image by Wipeout Dave via Flickr

Hedgerow Shrubs

Copper Beech, Buckthorn, Holly, Common Box, Hornbeam, Common Alder, Barbery, Flowering Quince, Field Maple, Yellow-stemmed Dogwood, Hazel, Hawthorn, Escallonia sp (evergreens), Wild Privet

Hedgerow Plants

Greater Celandine, Herb Robert, Primrose, Agrimony, Bluebell, Red Campion, Betony, Alexanders Hedge, Soundwort, Greater Stitchwort, Common Dog Violet, Sweet Cicely, White Deadnettle, Garlic Mustard


Written by Emma Fraser
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