If you live in the city, you’ve probably noticed that your backyard doesn’t have much wildlife. There are probably a few birds in the trees, but that’s about it.
But if you wanted to attract more animals to your yard, what would you do? You could buy a pond or bird feeder, but those can be expensive and time-consuming to maintain. Instead, why not try a wildlife hedge?
A wildlife hedge is exactly what it sounds like: a hedge made up of plants that attract wildlife. They’re easy to grow and maintain, so there’s no need for expensive equipment or time.
They’ll also help keep other pests out of your yard (like rabbits) and increase the value of your home (because who doesn’t want more animals wandering through their backyard?).
So which plants should you plant if you want to create a wildlife hedge? I’ve reviewed the six best evergreen hedges for wildlife in all types of environments—whether you live in an urban area or enjoy living in the country!
6 Best plants for wildlife hedge
A hedge is a row of shrubs or bushes planted so they can grow together to form a barrier or boundary. Hedges can be formal or informal. Formal hedges are clipped and shaped into geometric shapes, such as squares, rectangles, circles, and triangles. Informal hedges are left to grow naturally and may have more than one species.
Wildlife hedges are an important part of any garden. They provide shelter, food, and a home for the wildlife in the area.
But which plants are best for creating a wildlife hedge? Here we look at six of the best.
Field maple is a hardy tree that makes an excellent hedge plant. Its leaves have serrated edges, which help them stay on the tree all year round. The leaves change color in autumn from green to yellow and then orange before falling off completely at the end of November or early December.
Field maple produces brown seedpods in late winter, which are eaten by birds such as tits, finches, and sparrows.
Hawthorn is a native British tree with pink flowers in spring followed by fruits eaten by many birds, including thrushes, blackbirds, and finches.
Rabbits can nibble the leaves, but they contain bitter tannins, which make them unpalatable. Hawthorn is usually planted as a single specimen hedge or as part of a mixed hedge.
Blackthorn is another native British tree that produces dark purple berries eaten by many birds, including thrushes, waxwings, and finches. Blackthorns are slow-growing but long-lived trees that grow well in exposed sites where other species struggle to survive.
They can also be used as individual specimens or as part of a mixed hedgerow alongside hawthorns or other native trees such as field maples.
This beautiful, deciduous tree can grow up to 20m in height and has a spread of 12m. It’s native to the eastern US and Canada, but it’s also grown as an ornamental tree in Europe and elsewhere.
The leaves are elliptical and turn purple in autumn, but they can vary in shape. The flowers are yellow and fragrant, while the fruit (which ripens in September) is bright red when ripe. The fruits are edible, but they taste bitter!
This is a lovely ornamental shrub that grows well in most soils like on acid or alkaline soils, though it prefers some shade when young.
It can reach 2m tall and wide, with dark green leaves and white flowers followed by dark purple berries which attract birds such as thrushes, blackbirds, and starlings.
You can plant bird cherry in hedges or even use it as a specimen tree in an open space if there isn’t too much competition for light from other plants.
This is a great wildlife plant that can be used to make a hedge. It is a perennial and will come back year after year. Honeysuckle has beautiful flowers that attract butterflies and other pollinators and provide a food source for birds.
The plants grow quickly, so you can use them to make a hedge in one or two seasons. They are easy to prune, making them an excellent choice for inexperienced gardeners.
The only downside of honeysuckle is that it can spread very quickly, so it needs to be contained with some sort of barrier unless you want it to take over your garden!
Benefits of planting a hedge
Hedges have been used for centuries as a way of dividing up land and creating boundaries. They were used as defensive barriers during times of war and were often planted with thorny plants such as hawthorn to make them impenetrable.
Today, shrubs for wildlife hedges are more commonly used as ornamental features in gardens. Here are some more benefits of planting a hedge in your garden.
Privacy is one of the most important benefits of planting a hedge. It not only blocks out views from the outside but also protects those on the inside from unwanted attention.
Best evergreen hedges for wildlife work well as barriers to prevent prying eyes from seeing into your garden. In contrast, deciduous hedges can provide summer privacy before dropping their leaves in autumn.
Protection against wind
Windbreaks are another benefit of planting a hedge. Evergreens are especially effective at blocking out strong winds because they’re tall enough to stop them at head height.
Deciduous varieties such as hazel or beech also offer protection against strong winds, but they won’t last year round as they don’t have thick trunks like many evergreens.
Hedges are excellent sound barriers, especially motor vehicle noise and other traffic noise. The dense foliage of a hedge also absorbs sound, which helps reduce the amount of noise that reaches your ears.
For instance, if you have a hedge between your house and the street, it will help keep out unwanted sounds such as horns and sirens.
Enhance energy conservation
Hedges provide wind protection for buildings and other structures. They can also protect plants from drying out in hot weather or becoming too cold in cold weather because they slow downwind speed and reduce evaporation rates through transpiration. This means that hedges can help reduce heat loss or gain through buildings, saving on heating and cooling costs over time.
Create wildlife habitat
Hedges provide shelter for many types of wildlife, including birds and insects like bees, butterflies, and moths. They also provide food sources such as berries or nuts that birds can eat during the winter when there isn’t much else available in their natural habitat.
Increase Species Diversity
Hedges can be used to add both species diversity and density to your landscape. By choosing plants that bloom at different times of the year, you can extend the blooming period from spring through fall with minimal effort.
This is especially helpful if you do not have time to prune or deadhead regularly. Adding more plants to an area can increase biodiversity and provide a natural habitat for birds and insects.
Beautify the Landscape
Hedges also make great screens for privacy or other landscaping purposes. Planting several different types of shrubs together allows you to create a variety of heights within the same planting bed while providing visual interest throughout the year as they change color with each season’s new growth.
Screen unsightly elements
If you have a view that you don’t particularly like, such as a busy road, then hedging can provide an element of privacy and protection from the elements.
Protect your home
Hedges can also help to protect your home from the elements. If you have a garden that backs onto a busy road or railway line, then a hedge will help to block out the noise and traffic so you can enjoy the tranquility of your own backyard.
Suppress weeds and pests
A hedge acts as a physical barrier that prevents weeds from spreading into an adjacent area of your garden. This is especially useful if you have an annual weed problem such as bindweed or Japanese knotweed growing on your border.
A hedge will also keep out deer and rabbits, which can cause damage to young trees or shrubs during winter when food is scarce in the wild.
Types of hedges
The first step in planting a hedge is to decide what type of hedge you want. Many choices are available, including evergreen or deciduous, tall or short, and evergreen or deciduous.
Deciduous hedges lose their leaves in winter, while evergreen hedges keep their leaves all year. Deciduous hedges are usually more colorful in the spring when they come into leaf than evergreens, and they provide better screening when in leaf than during winter when bare. Evergreens make the best hedges for wildlife year-round but are not as colorful in spring as deciduous plants.
If you are going to plant an evergreen hedge near your house, remember that evergreens take longer than deciduous shrubs to grow high enough to provide effective screening.
Deciduous shrubs also tend to have better fall color than evergreens because they lose their leaves in fall, while evergreens retain their foliage throughout the winter months.
How to plant a hedge in your garden
When planting a hedge, it’s important to realize that the plants will grow quickly, so make sure you choose varieties that suit the available space. As well as being attractive, hedging plants should be hardy enough to cope with the conditions in your area.
Planting a hedge is not difficult, but it does require some preparation work. Here’s how we’d do it:
Choose the site
Before you plant a hedge, you’ll need to decide on the style and type of hedge you’d like to grow and how big you’d like it to be. This will help choose the correct space for your new hedge and also help you determine how many plants you will need.
The ideal site for a hedge should be on flat ground with good drainage. Ensure there are no underground cables or pipes in the proposed area, as these can cause problems later in your hedge’s life.
Clear the ground
This isn’t always necessary if you’re planting shrubs instead of trees or bushes, but if there are already established plants, you need to remove them along with any weeds growing around them. If they’re large trees or bushes, then you may need help lifting them out of the ground – you may need to hire professional help.
Dig a trench
Preparing your soil before planting any plants is important, especially when growing a hedge from scratch. This involves digging holes around 10cm deep and wide enough for each plant (some hedges will require more than one hole per plant). The size of these holes will depend on how big your plants will be when they’re fully grown – larger plants need larger holes!
Fill in with soil
Once your trench has been dug, fill it with soil until it is level with the surrounding ground. This will help keep your plants watered and prevent them from drying out during dry periods in summer.
Plant your first row
Once you’ve prepared the ground, it’s time to dig in your plants! To do this, use a shovel or spade (depending on how deep your bed is) and start digging out holes around 15cm deep and 20-30cm wide.
Place one plant at the bottom of each hole with its roots facing down towards the center before covering them back up with soil. You can either use a trowel to fill up around each plant or use your hands but don’t compact down too much as this will stop air from getting into the root system, which could cause problems later on when they grow bigger!
Hedges are often planted in rows – this allows them to be trimmed regularly once they reach maturity so that they form a uniform shape and height throughout their growth period. If this sounds like something you want to do, then make sure that each row has an equal amount of space between it.
Plant one row at a time by adding compost or other organic matter to the bottom of each hole before planting. Planting too many plants at once can put unnecessary stress on their young root systems, so make sure each row has its own space and doesn’t have to compete with other rows for nutrients or water sources.
Add mulch after planting each plant in its hole.
The mulch will help keep moisture in the soil around your new plants and prevent weeds from growing up through it. You can either lay down landscape fabric first, then add mulch over the top of it or just apply mulch directly onto the bare ground without using landscape fabric at all
Unless you have sandy soil that doesn’t retain much moisture anyway, which is unlikely unless you live in an arid climate where it’s hot year-round with very little rainfall (which isn’t recommended because too much sun exposure can burn leaves).
Water plants with a seaweed solution
Watering plants with a seaweed solution is a great way to boost your garden. Seaweed is high in nutrients and contains many plant-friendly minerals, such as iron and potassium. It also adds beneficial bacteria and fungi to the soil, helping to improve the health of your plants.
To make this simple watering mixture, place two cups of kelp meal or seaweed powder in a bucket of water and let it sit for 24 hours. Strain out the kelp with a fine strainer or cheesecloth, then dilute the strained liquid from one part seaweed water to four parts water. You can use this diluted solution as you would any other liquid fertilizer.
What is the best hedge for wildlife?
The best hedge for wildlife has been planted to provide birds and other wildlife habitats. A well-planted hedge will provide shelter for birds, insects, mammals, and reptiles; food sources in all seasons; places to nest and raise young, hibernate or overwinter; and protection from predators.
Native shrubs and trees like hawthorn, field maple, blackthorn, and beech—which offer berries for birds in the wintertime—hornbeam and holly make excellent hedges.
What hedge stays green all year?
Hedge plants that stay green all year include boxwood, cedar, laurel, privet, and yew. They are evergreen shrubs providing privacy and beauty to a yard all year. Boxwood shrubs are often used in topiary because they are so dense and compact.
Cedar hedges are popular choices for outdoor privacy because they stay green all year. Many cedar trees are available, including Leyland cypress and arborvitae.
Are camellias good for hedges?
Camellias are great for shrubs for wildlife. ‘Paradise’ camellias is a lovely, tall, evergreen cultivar with a compact habit. It grows to about 2 meters in height and has gold flowers in autumn.
The sasanqua types make very good hedging plants and are attractive as ornamentals. The hybrids come in many forms, and most have attractive flowers with good winter colors.
I hope these six plants will help you create a wildlife hedge that’s thriving and beautiful! The best hedges for wildlife will be those you enjoy, but also ones that can benefit the environment. You should consider how much space you have and any special requirements for the plants. Do you have any other suggestions for the best evergreen hedges for wildlife hedges? Share them in the comments below!
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