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Planting mixed native hedge for birds

Hi all

I'm new to the forum and gardening and need advice please! 

After watching Kate Bradbury on Springwatch this year I have been inspired to make my garden more wildlife friendly and one of the first things I looking to do is plant some native hedging for the birds. 

The location is a narrow bed that runs along my neighbours fence and is around 6 meters long by 60cm wide. I visited a local nursery and was bought a selection of field maple, hornbeam, firethorn, holly, purple beech, guelder rose and green beech all of which are young specimens in 4 litre pots. Through a lot of online research and speaking with the staff at the garden centre it seemed that I could place 3 plants per metre and that with tending I could grow them to around 1.5m with no problems. 

My neighbour has since emphatically told me that I have planted them all to close together and that the maple, hornbeam and beech are not suitable as they will grow into huge trees that will grow over into his garden.  :/ Now I am really confused and don't know if I should remove them all.

Am I ok to grow these plants as a hedge that won't affect his fencing and which I can keep at a height of around 1.5m? Or is he right and I need to rethink this?

Thank you for any help as I really do want to make this work and help/support my local wildlife (we live in a built-up suburb of London).


  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 17,116
    edited July 2019
    Welcome to the forum. That spacing is what the hedging companies recommend. I put in some crab apple hedging myself last year and checked the spacing then. You might also lose a few plants over the years, to drought or disease etc. All the plants you have chosen are great for hedging. You just have to prune them as hedging and not let them get over a certain point. It's right that if you just left these trees to their own devices they would become full grown, so you have to stay on top of pruning in the long term.

    As to the pruning your neighbour's side of the hedge, that would be up to him, as always. I have a mixed hedge in my front garden of beech, pyracantha, holly and crabs and it does take some managing. I am on good terms with my neighbours and offer to prune their side too (which I do).

    They take a lot of watering, esp through the summer. Good luck with your great project.

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,564
    Agree.  Hedges only become trees if people neglect to keep them trimmed to hedge size.   Keep it watered for its first summer and then give it a ulch of well rotted compost or manure in autumn once the leaves drop.  This will help feed the roots so you get good strong plants and a nice thick hedge.  Pruning back the height and width each year will soon thicken up the top growth and make it a haven for all sorts of insects, birds and small mammals.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Hampshire_HogHampshire_Hog Hampshire Coast 100m from the seaPosts: 1,089
    As long as you keep it at 2 meters or below you should not have a problem and the neighbour should not have any grounds for complaint unless they can prove it's reduced their light dramatically. everyone else has covered the rest good luck and enjoy your hedge and the wildlife.

    "You don't stop gardening because you get old, you get old because you stop gardening." - The Hampshire Hog
  • CeresCeres Posts: 2,149
    That's a lovely mixture of hedging plants. You may find the holly is slower to grow so make sure it doesn't get overwhelmed by it's neighbours. Once it is up and running it will hold it's own. My holly plants are all free, courtesy of the birds, and I have used them to plug gaps in the hedge when other plants died.
  • Hi all. Thanks so much for the advise. I feel more confident that I have made the right decision with the hedge. I don't mind the maintenance at all as was expecting this and the results will be worth it.

    With the field maple, beech and hornbeam, that can grow to tree size if left, will their roots stay small if they are pruned back to under 2m or can they still pose a risk to house foundations? The hedge will start only a metre or so away from the back of my house.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,564
    Generally speaking, tree roots extend out as far as the canopy above and maybe a bt more.   Unless the hedge is right up against your house wall it should not prove to be a problem.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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