Planting new hedges in the right way in the right place can bring huge environmental benefits, in built-up areas, in gardens and in the countryside. A new hedge will support much wildlife and may do a host of other useful things, like capturing pollutants, conserving soil or storing carbon. There are few endeavours more satisfying in life than watching a new hedge that you’ve had a hand in planting, grow. It is a lasting legacy, one that could live on for centuries.
A hedge or hedgerow (the term is used interchangeably) is a row of bushes or trees, usually less than 5m wide at the base, often along the edge of a garden, field, or road. The bushes or trees can be short or high – a line of mature oaks or beeches with touching canopies is just as much a hedge as one kept short by periodic trimming. It can be difficult to decide whether a feature is a hedge, an avenue or a wide windbreak! A good hedge, though, is more than just a row of bushes or trees. It should have margins that are full of tussocky grasses or flowers. Better still, it should have a bank and/or ditches, but these are not essential. When planning a new hedge, do think about all these components: making a good new hedge is more than just planting a row of shrubs or whips.
This is the third of a series of hedgerow learning guides, based on current best-practice, that work together to give you a detailed understanding of why hedges are important, and what you can do to protect, manage and plant them