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Hedging for wildlife


We are planting a hedge this winter along one boundary fence of our garden. We have 26m to fill and I would like this to be good for birds, bees and other wildlife and maybe cooking/eating. We are also planting an apple tree (greensleeves) and green gage tree (imperial) nearby so want the crab apple and a type of wild plum for pollination?

We are going to keep it at about 1.5m tall for now. 

There is also a large oak tree shading a good patch of the fencing. I have only found purging buckthorn for this area? It may get sun first thing in the morning but will otherwise be shaded. The garden is East facing so gets sun all day apart from under that huge tree (getting tree surgeons to prune soon)

We are not green fingered and do tend to neglect things a little at times as busy with work and kids. It will get a spring and winter trim though depending on what is necessary.
Should we plant blocks of each type or a total mixture?
What would you plant here, why and how many of each type to fill the space?



  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 21,267
    edited October 2020

    Well, you have yourself a project there.

    I would mix the plants up myself, more like nature and less likely to end up with bare patches. 

    Holly grows under trees. I have two variegated hollies growing directly under a forty-foot cupressus tree. Very dry and shady and they do OK.  But hollies aren’t keen on being trimmed, so you might have to just let them do their thing under there.

    Here is a website which gives you a good idea of what birds and bees like to see in a hedge.

    You would need the first option, I think.

    The more plants you pack into a metre length the thicker the hedge will be, providing you keep everything well watered and weed free.  If you can’t guarantee being able to keep them watered, install a trickle system to take the strain.

    As a pollinating partner for your greengage you could throw in a couple of sloe bushes. Good for sloe gin at Christmas, too. 😁 Edit. Just spotted that they have already included sloes in the mix.🙂
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • jo1jo1 Posts: 4
    Thankyou pansyface.
  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,923
    soft fruit like gooseberry and raspberry will grow in quite heavy shade, but you might want to do a bit of a raised bed as digging into the ground where the tree root already are will be quite hard.
  • One thing I notice from hedges in my lane is that an extra couple of feet, and an extra bit of density, makes a huge difference to birds sheltering / roosting in it. I can hear which hedge is full of sparrows just walking down the lane.

    Just going for say 7 ft in the future rather than 5 ft will make a noticeable difference, especially if the hedge is dense enough to keep cats out.
    “Rivers know this ... we will get there in the end.”
  • jo1jo1 Posts: 4
    Thankyou treehugger80
    Good point about the tree roots, may have to rethink that a bit.

    Thankyou Ferdinand2000
    I think it will take a few years to get up to height, by that time we may want higher depending on if current neighbour is still around. (He's a nice old guy and we don't feel the need to have a tall hedge as he has a veg patch there and the taller the hedge the harder to trim.)
    The birds have a very long dense hedge on the other side of the garden so again I'm not too worried about that as we already have almost too many birds 🐦. Hoping the fruit hedge will save me some money on seed in the long run 😂 and would like something prettier and more fragrant than the evergreen hedge.
  • BijdezeeBijdezee BPosts: 1,484
    I have a similar hedge. I have blackthorn berberis, honeysuckle (lonicera Henryi, evergreen - the flowers are not showy but the bees love it.) viburnum, redcurrant and dogwood.

    If you want flowers and berries on the blackthorn they I wouldn't trim it twice a year as it will cut them off. I would say that a wildlife hedge is not a normal hedge and cannot really be trimmed back in that way or a lot of the benefit to wildlife is lost. Although it will give a denser hedge for nesting.

    A relative put a blackthorn hedge in and complained that she didn't het the blossom. I had to point out that she had trimmed off the branches that bore the blossom. 

  • jo1jo1 Posts: 4
    Thankyou Bijdezee. Is viburnum ok with being trimmed to 1.5m ish? I would go taller but my husband is the one that's going to be trimming it and he'ssaying no. He will be happy with no spring trimming though  :)
  • BijdezeeBijdezee BPosts: 1,484
    edited October 2020
    I have never trimmed mine and its at about 1 metre and flowering at the moment. They're quite slow growing regarding height. There are various types and I suspect that the growth rate varies too. Mine is Viburnum Tinus but viburnum opulus is the one recommended for wildlife. This might help

    I think you will probably want to keep the berries for the birds so I would keep the pruning minimal unless it really needs it. 
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