We believe everyone should plant a hedge. Hedges offer so much: for gardeners, they offer privacy and definition, bringing evergreen or deciduous interest to any sized space. For wildlife, they are a home, refuge or food station. But they also impact more positively on the wider environment for everyone.
Hedges vs Fences:
There are so many reasons to plant a hedge over erecting a fence. Not only is it cheaper, quicker, better for the environment, but recent research has shown that planting a hedge also plays an important role in mitigating problems such as flash flooding, habitat loss and pollution. Indeed, at this years RHS Chelsea Flower Show, hedges replaced walls and fences as boundaries.
If its screening and privacy you require, an evergreen hedge can be the perfect option, without the worry of having to maintain, treat and upkeep a fence that is likely only going to blow over strong winds. A haven for birds and wildlife, flowers, berries, autumnal foliage and structure, hedges are surely the superior option to fencing.
The Science behind planting a hedge:
Science has shown that many hedges can trap harmful particulates, pollution levels, and help lessen noise pollution from traffic. Hedges in towns and cities also have a vital role to play in helping to mitigate flash flooding and reduce the effects of urban warming. We are only just beginning to understand their importance. Visually, we need hedges, for any garden or landscape design, but the environment and its inhabitants need them too.
The RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) have been carrying out their own research into the environmental benefits of hedging. A summary can be found HERE, detailing how particularly in built up urban environments, the benefits of hedging can be enormous.
Which plants to choose?
There are hedging solutions for every location, size and budget. For low hedges, plants such as Japanese holly (Ilex crenata) or box (Buxus sempervirens) are perfect. On the other end of the scale, beech (Fagus sylvatica) or Leyland cypress (x Cuprocyparis leylandii) can grow extremely tall.
Some are evergreen, some are deciduous, and a few hedges are semievergreen meaning they lose a few but not all leaves in winter. A few, such as hawthorn (Crataegus), will provide displays of flowers and fruit; the flowers of some, such as Osmanthus, may be scented. Many are of great value to wildlife, be it in the form of tasty fruit for birds or essential cover for mammals and many insects. There are hedges such as Griselinia that thrive by the seaside; hedges such as prickly holly that deter burglars; some that thrive in full sun and withstand drought; while others will withstand deep shade.