We often get asked what is the one best thing we can do in our gardens to help attract in birds. What do you think the answer is? My reply to this is usually get a hedge in, or if it's a tiny garden, get at least a couple of shrubs. My logic behind this, well a hedge has got a number of benefits for wildlife, not just birds. Many garden birds, and open country species like yellowhammers too, need shelter for nesting and roosting, a hedge can provide both. Many hedgerow shrubs provide fruit, berries that attract birds as well as nectar rich flowers, great for bees and edible foliage for the caterpillars of moths and butterflies. Hedges also give connectivity, linking up gardens and allowing safe movement, not just for birds but also for creatures like hedgehogs and toads that often shelter at the base.
So all in all a hedge is pretty good thing to have for wildlife. But in recent decades they seem to have been dropped in favour of the instant barrier of a fence. Saying I hate fences is probably a bit strong but I have a mild dislike for them. This has nothing to do with an incident involving a fence and a wheelie bin last week (don't ask!) but they just offer nothing for wildlife, well apart from spiders which may hide in the gaps! A hedge however is bursting with life and is a better long term investment than a fence. A well kept hedge with a few prickly species in it offers a great security feature as well as being less likely to blow over in a gale.
Have I tempted you? If so, get preparing your boundaries for a bit of winter hedge planting! The RSPB have a great deal with Ashridge nurseries so you can get your hedgerow whips now for planting this winter at a decent price whilst also helping out your local wildlife, have a look at the deal and the details here - Ashridge trees bird friendly hedge mix. The hedge pack includes hawthorn, wild damson, wild privet, hazel, dog rose, field maple and cherry plum.
Thanks for your comments Cirrus! Well, a rowan and an apple should be bringing quite the crowd at some point this autumn! I agree with your concerns over the loss of gardens to hard landscaping for drives etc, especially as there are free draining alternatives called geogrids which grass and ground cover plants can grow through!
In principle I totally agree with you but, well, I have more than a mild dislike of hedges !! but only because I am on my own and just couldn't trim it and so on (every so often this really would need to be done.)
But I do have a couple of trees (rowan and apple) and large shrubs which I leave 'untidy' for the insects to hibernate in and so on.
I hope that makes up for the lack of hedge.
And I do so wish people wouldn't have car parks instead of a garden :(
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