Forum home Wildlife gardening

Beech or Hawthorn?


I want to creates two hedges to support wildlife and replace a horrible fence. . one is 15m or so in the back garden and I have already planted Rowan, crab apple and hazel in the garden sso was thinking Hawthorn might complement this nicely? maybe mixed with hazel. but the other in the front garden is only a space of maybe 2.5m and I can't decide between beech and hawthorn. I was leaning towards beech for the colour as I thought it would look nice in front of the white house while also supporting the birds etc. however ass the information I've read mentions how good beech is for a tall hedge. I only want this one to be about 1.5m tall at most. will beech still be suitable or would hawthorn be a better option do you think?



  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,112
    edited November 2022
    You’re right … hawthorn will go really well in the mixed hedge and will be great for wildlife, especially if it’s allowed to grow big enough so it can flower and fruit. 

    I wouldn’t use it for the front hedge which needs to be kept trimmed within a more confined space. Beech would be fine … my personal preferences tho would be for holly or yew. 

    Hope that’s helpful 😊 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • UffUff Posts: 3,199
    Beech because of the wicked thorns that hawthorn has. Beech is much more suitable and lovely to look at. 
    SW SCOTLAND but born in Derbyshire
  • thanks, why do you recommend holly or yew out of interest? I have a couple of hollies in both the front and the back but hadn't considered them for the hedge and to be honest I know very little about yew! 
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,112
    edited November 2022
    Both holly and yew are good for wildlife … they form a dense hedge when clipped so provide lots of shelter for small birds, both during bad weather and at nesting time. They also provide good habitats for the small invertebrates that wrens, robins and dunnocks etc feed on in the winter.  

    They have small flowers that are good for pollinators and of course female hollies have berries, as do yews. They also don’t grow too fast so they don’t need to be clipped too often to keep them looking good as a more formal front garden hedge, and I love the very dark green as a background to a  flowerbed. 

    They’re not considered for hedging so often nowadays, but they’re traditional in cottage gardens and I love them. 😊 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • UffUff Posts: 3,199
    As an addendum, I should have mentioned that clipped beech has a good autumn colour and keeps the leaves until the spring when new ones appear. 

    It's worth remembering that yew berries can be deadly poisonous and I wouldn't plant yew as a front hedge for that reason.
    SW SCOTLAND but born in Derbyshire
  • wild edgeswild edges Posts: 9,930
    Every wildlife hedge should include some Dog Rose (Rosa canina) as well. You can also knock in a stake or two along the length and use them to support bird boxes while the hedge grows in. Open fronted boxes that robins like or ones that birds like wrens can use. Plant spikey plants around them.
    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
  • WoodgreenWoodgreen Posts: 1,273
    I have a beech hedge to screen my oil tank and keep it at around 5 feet high and fairly narrow. Birds nest in it and feed off the insects it supports. 
    Friends have a much lower beech hedge to protect their vegetable patch from the wind, so it is possible to keep beech low.
    Beech gives seasonal interest too, the new soft growth of light green eventually turning to tougher coppery foliage for the winter.

    Also, I think it's important to consider the cutting and disposal of the prunings and whether any delay in cutting due to unforseen circumstances might cause problems for yourself or passers by if the hedge is near a pavement.

  • PalustrisPalustris Posts: 4,215
    As said, if you have to cut the hedge and dispose of the prunings then do not plant anything with thorns,prickles or spiny leaves. They are a major nuisance to deal with. This house has a 100 feet long Holly hedge and it is a swine to deal with. The leaves fall all year and even when old they still painful when weeding alongside the hedge.
  • Thankyou everyone, that's helped make my mind up! Beech it is :smiley:
  • Also love the bird box idea
Sign In or Register to comment.