Ooooo.... there's nothing better than a native hedge for your wildlife.... and you. Planting a native hedge for wildlife makes a great habitat but it also delivers in terms of aesthetics and food source for you too! You'll achieve year-round interest with seeds, berries, blossom and flowers as well as lots of different type of foliage (and thorns!). You will see an increase in insects, mammals and birds in your garden who will use your hedge for food and shelter. Butterflies will find it a useful source of nectar and so will moths too who will visit at night and be particularly pleased to find a blackthorn blossom on offer.
Don't worry about planting in a straight line or putting your hedge in around the edge of your garden - we've put a Wiggly Hedge right through the middle of our garden - it helps to section things off and screen different parts of the garden. If you only have a small amount of space you can still go for a few hedging plants - the more diverse the better. What to plant Choose a mixture of hedging trees and shrubs; birch, beech, oak, hazel, dogwoods and hawthorn are ideal. Add an occasional honeysuckle to creep up your hedge - looks fab and great for moths.
The best and cheapest way to create a native hedge is from bare root saplings - whips. Don't be put off by the fact that they look like sticks on arrival - they are dormant and will soon green up once planted and Spring has sprung! Your native hedge will look fabulous and nowhere near as formal as many of the hedges that people have chosen lately.... privet.... or leylandii... Your hedge will make a fabulous barrier, is really hardy and can stand a good pruning without a problem. It will look wonderfully diverse - because it is!
Preparing your soil.
In a perfect world - remove any weeds and large stones, dig the area over and incorporate some organic matter. In an imperfect world stick your spade in the soil and make a good size slit to pop your plant in. Any time from autumn to spring is great for planting. Just make sure the ground isn't frozen or waterlogged.
How to plant
Plant your whips in a staggered double row roughly half a metre apart. Water well in and give your new hedge a thick mulch (Strulch is perfect). This will help to reduce any competition from weeds as the hedge gets going.
A few worm casts will encourage your hedge to grow and best to top up the mulch. If you have really dry periods it will be a good idea to water every now and again during the first couple of years of growth. You can give your hedge a good trim in the Autumn. There wont be any nesting birds then either. Be bold.... Cutting back hard will help your hedge thicken up which will look better and provide a more sheltered habitat for your birds, bugs and butterflies.