Celebrating Hedging

By Annie Buckle

We recently shared our biodiversity action plan, which will commence with the planting of a new native hedgerow next to our reservoir.

Native hedgerows have significant historical and ecological importance in the UK countryside. They delineate boundaries, prevent soil erosion, sequester carbon and provide food and shelter; not only for us (by protecting crops from prevailing winds and supplying blackberries, sloes, and elderflower etc), but for other animals too. Around 65 species of bird alone are estimated to use hedgerow habitats, as well as mammals, invertebrates, and other plant species.

Celebrating Hedging

However, UK hedgerows saw a significant decline between the late 1940s and early 1990s, undoubtedly contributing to the rapid decline of many farmland wildlife species. Post-war policies encouraged the removal of hedging to utilise available land and as farm machinery became larger, they required more space to manoeuvre, necessitating further hedging removal. A lack of proper management, damage from spraying and widespread stubble burning (the latter of which is now banned) also had an impact on the health of hedgerows and their ability to support wildlife.

Experts have noted that some of these losses may have been due to the incorporation of hedges into parts of woodland or the reclassification of undermanaged areas into treelines. By the early 1990s, initiatives were being put in place to reduce the overall decline. Since then, legislation now requires permission to be sought before hedge removals can take place and schemes to encourage replanting and correct management are underway to restore this important habitat.

Our new reservoir hedging will include dogwoods (Cornus sanguinea), hazel (Corylus avellana), hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) and wayfaring tree (Viburnum lantana), all of which will provide seasonal interest, protection, foraging and hiding places. During assessment of the planting site, we identified two of the ten hedgerow bird species that were placed on the red list of conservation concern in 1996; linnets and bullfinches, so we are very hopeful that the new hedge will offer even more opportunities for other wildlife visitors.

Though rain brings its own complications, we look forward to the change in weather that autumn brings so that we can fully embrace the planting season.

Celebrating Hedging

Plant your own Native Hedge

Nicholsons specialise in hedging and screening and have a large nursery to choose yours from. We also have horticultural advisors available to help you identify what hedging will work best for your garden. Pop in and visit us or view our online availability lists to get the process started.