Five years of growth.

Five years ago, Network Rail, The Tree Council, Hadley Wood Rail User Group, and the Hadley Wood Association embarked on a journey of collaboration that is delivering fascinating results, improving ways of working, and sparking new national research. And, of course, together we have established a hedgerow, bursting with blossom in spring and berries in autumn!

Why hedgerows?

Hedgerows are a great option for railside vegetation. They boost biodiversity, mitigate flood impacts, capture carbon and are more visually pleasing than a fence. In the 19th century, hedges were planted along newly created railways to prevent livestock from wandering onto the lines. Now, this innovative five-year trial at Hadley Wood Rail Station in north London is providing practical learnings for cost-effective hedgerow creation.

Methodology

The trial tested three different hedgerow creation techniques: planting whips (young trees), sowing a seed mix and natural regeneration.
Volunteers from the local community planted half of the whips with supervision from The Tree Council, while the other half were planted by contractors provided with a specification.

What are the key learnings so far?

  • Sections planted with whips have formed an effective boundary around 3.5m high

  • Hedgerow whips have begun producing flowers and fruits, supporting wildlife

  • Planting with the right knowledge and supervision delivered a high survival rate (94%)

  • Natural regeneration did not lead to a hedgerow within the five-year timeframe

  • A hedgerow can grow from seed within five years, but it is not as reliable as whip planting. It may offer a cheaper alternative to whip planting using contractors, but further research is needed to optimise the technique

Impacts

The impacts of the project extend far beyond the site at Hadley Wood. Active partnership has helped to strengthen relationships with the local community and the trial has positively influenced railside vegetation management in other locations, inspiring other hedgerow trials. By highlighting the importance of good practice in tree planting, the project is contributing to national research on tree establishment.

Read in detail

Read the full details of the trial here, including the methodology and more information on our findings. Double click to zoom in, or download the report here.