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Do we remove huge Conifer Trees for wildlife hedge/trees??

We have about 10 conifer trees (planted too closely) that are planted across the back of our new garden along the fence line (thats 10 metres). They are enormous, they come out 5 metres into the garden. It is very open underneath them. They are around 10 metres tall. 

Do these provide much in the way of wildlife habitat? We are thinking of removing them and planting more 'wildlife friendly' hedging, and a couple of other trees. But I wasn't sure what to plant or whether these may provide shelter to wildlife? 

I really need some space back for a greenhouse so also thinking if I remove them it would give us some space even with adding new hedging...

Anyway sorry for the long post, basically, will I be destroying a valuable wildlife habitat removing them? And what could be put in their place if they are removed (thats good for wildlife but also provides some height in places to shield neighbours)?? 

Thanks so much!

  • I am guessing they are leylandii as they're often planted as hedging, planted very close together and left to get tall. They're also economy hedging and do a good job for privacy and shelter.

    All hedging, no matter what species of plant it is, has some benefit for wildlife. Dense evergreen would provide nest sites for blackbirds and robins & a few other species. It would also provide cover and shelter. Other than that, non native conifers offer little else and soil quality will deteriorate around the hedge.

    Difficult to provide too many tips. Is the area South facing? (i.e. casting long shadows for much of the year) What sort of height would you want any replacement to be? How much maintenance would you want to be doing? Do you want privacy from neighbours all year, or would having deciduous hedging be enough/tolerable, so only the Winter months lack a screen? Any specific wildlife you have in mind?

    Definitely worth nailing the hedge i.d. as if it is yew, I'd try and salvage what's there and keep it.
  • In reply to Robbo:

    Thanks so much for the reply, here are some pictures, I guess it would definitely provide shelter...Although a pretty open structure in there... They do shade the garden a fair bit so was thinking of just lowering the height, but it was the tree surgeon who said it would probably look a little unsightly to do that as they go out so far. 

    But I really don't want the guilt of destroying wildlife homes as the trees are so mature....

    Not too bothered about year round cover from neighbours but may be nice to have something, as they have just erected a seating area right up against the fence...

    Have hedgehogs & lots of birds so shelter for them would be nice, obviously insects too :) 

    Do you think these are just giant leylandii? I think when the previous owners moved in 14 years ago the trees were no where near the shed ( its 6ft & has now disappeared!)

    Only way I use the area is to hide the compost heap which I guess is good for wildlife being sheltered too... Im just so indecisive don't want to regret taking them down.

    Thanks again! 

  • The RSPB have an article about hedges and what to plant and attraction etc.
    Here is the webpage, it's worth a look

    Richard B

  • And here is a similar article from The Wildlife Trust

    Richard B

  • I would say they are Leylandii which are pretty poor for wildlife. I would not hesitate removing them when covenient. Get the tree surgeon to leave a pile or two of some of the cut logs and chippings of different sizes in a quiet sunny spot for beetles to live in.

    8 years ago I removed spindly bits of our front privet hedge and replanted with wildlife shrubs in  batches of 3, so 3 holly, 3 hazel, 3 hawthorn, etc.

    I then  planted some trees & shrubs  in front if that - silver birch, crab apple, bird cherry, with wildflowers in between.

    Its been great watching more and more wildlife appear over the years such as sparrowhawk, fox, bullfinch, & fritillary butterflies.

  • It won't cost anything to get a tree surgeon to come take a look. If they are Leylandii then you don't need to feel guilty about removing and replacing with shrubs and trees that have far more wildlife value, both in food and habitat. Just one word waning - the soil will be very poor and robbed out. I had to do a lot of soil improvement when we took our out and before putting in a beech hedge.

    Cin J

  • Hi

    you can't go wrong with a sycamore or some hawthorn, crab apple and broom


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