What sort of hedge should I buy?
Let me guess... something fast growing, good for security and privacy, attractive and wildlife friendly?
Our native hedge plants can be all that. They typically grow fast. One of Hawthorn's other names - "Quickthorn" - gives you a clue. Mixed native hedges are stockproof, which means they're also people proof. If they can keep cows in they can keep unwelcome visitors out! Any selection including spiky species like Hawthorn, Blackthorn and native roses makes for an impenetrable security hedge. Mixed native species make good privacy hedges too; some are evergreen and others, like Beech and Hornbeam, hold their leaves over winter. They provide all year round interest and value, with attractive blossom, nuts and berries, and autumn colour.
Value For Wildlife
Properly maintained, traditional hedgerows provide a substitute for lost woodland edge habitat for a wide range of wildlife. The RSPB estimates they now support up to 80% of our woodland birds, which are enduring fierce population falls. Properly managed, hedges planted with native species are rich in flora and fauna, and have been an important natural resource in our countryside since the Bronze Age. Not only do dense hedges provide shelter and food for wildlife, they are also "wildways" - corridors allowing safe movement. For wildlife - as well as biosecurtiy - native hedging is best sourced in the UK, grown from UK plants or seed - like ours.
Max Hooper was a botanist who worked out that if you walked a 30m length of hedgerow and counted the species in it, multiplied that by 100 you would have a reasonable estimate for the age of the hedge. While it's obviously not foolproof I was staggered to discover we were surrounded by medieval hedges. It's not that unusual. There was steady "enclosure" of common land then, accelerated by the Inclosure Acts of the 18th and 19th centuries. All the hedges created were managed by an army of hedgers and ditchers in winter. It's an amazing thought nowdays.
Planting A Hedge
When buying whips reckon on 5 plants per linear metre for a stockproof hedge, planted in a double staggered row. A triple width hedge - a monster but sometimes done - would take 7 plants / metre. Rows are 50cm apart unless you want a looser "wildway" hedge. Most people use plant guards to prevent damage from rabbits in particular, but if you do use them please remove after a couple of years or so as sadly they aren't disposable and they will also interfere with the development of the plants. We don't recommend using the woven plastic strips as as mulch; they're incredibly fiddly, don't biodegrade, and offer a perfect hideaway for a small army of voles to eat your new plant roots. It's very important to keep grass away from the young plants, however. Have a look at the resources below for more detailed guidance.
Our Hedge Plants For Sale
Below we list the best hedge shrubs and trees so that you can design your own native hedge. We also recommend different fast growing mixes for more diverse hedges or for a specific purpose. Our "standard" recommended hedge is the Conservation mix, which will give you a traditional wildlife friendly stock proof hedge based on Hawthorn. These species will grow in most conditions, including shady and north facing sites. All these mixes will be good to lay if required.
Please note that our plants are supplied as "bare root"; our native hedge plants are consequently only delivered from November - end March. They are usually supplied in 40-60cm or 60-90cm sizes. Depending on conditions, the 60-90cm plants will grow to around 2m height in 3 years. All these plants occur naturally in the UK and are all British grown from British stock - in other words, they have UK provenance and origin.
In addition to the resources below you'll also find lots of helpful information in our FAQs..
Hedges: Advice & Guides
What sort of hedge should I plant, and how should I do it?
Why and how to grow a native hedge
Annual hedge management
Managing your hedge for wildlife
Planting a native hedge (Video)
Our video guide on how to plant your new hedge whips