One of the best things homeowners can do to help wildlife is to create a hedgerow on their property. Birds, bats, beneficial insects and other animals have suffered due to loss of habitat and a hedgerow is a step toward offering a place for them to live, breed and find food. Not only will a hedgerow attract wildlife to your property, they offer creatures places for safe passage between parcels of land. Animals such as turtles and opossums will prefer to pass under dense foliage as opposed to open spaces where they are vulnerable to predators. This safe passage aids in the fight against fragmentation. (See: What Is Forest Fragmentation and Why Is It A Problem?)
What is a Hedgerow?
A hedgerow is a dense, linear planting of trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses. Hedgerow style lines of plants are commonly seen dividing pasture land and have been widely used in Europe for centuries. They are often used along property borders and distinguished by their use of a variety of plants as opposed to a single species. A good hedgerow is a combination of evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs of varying heights which gives them diversity. Diversity allows for an assortment of food and shelter choices for wildlife, therefore giving a hedgerow the ability to attract and support many different species of birds, butterflies, pollinators and other creatures to your yard. They may be formal or informal depending upon your personal taste and home style.
Hedgerows may be also be used as privacy fencing. Anywhere you are considering a row of leyland cypress would be an ideal area to plant a hedgerow. Instead of planting a single row of one tree or shrub type, a hedgerow contains an assortment of plants. This benefits a homeowner by ensuring that if a single plant species were to get a disease, the other plants in the privacy fence would not die off and need replacing.
What to Consider when Planning a Hedgerow:
- Above all a hedgerow should support the lives of wildlife by providing food, shelter and breeding areas/homes.
- Ideally a hedgerow should be at least 10 – 15′ wide however a narrower size will still work if you have a smaller space.
- Hedgerows may be groomed and kept tidy for more formal landscapes or left to grow on their own if you prefer a more natural look.
- Native is best! Native birds, bees, butterflies and wildlife will prefer native plants. Use an assortment plants native to your local area. Be sure to include small trees and shrubs of varying heights and different bloom/fruiting times.
- Make certain to include a few evergreens for year round shelter for birds and other wildlife. During the wintertime birds will seek evergreen trees for roosting and smaller creatures will make homes under the protection of branches.
- If you space plants correctly and give them enough room to fill in, you will be able to control future growth. Plants should touch each other when mature to form a continuous line of habitat. Be certain to give them appropriate space when young.
- Since a good hedgerow is a refuge which offers wildlife shelter well as supports them with food each plant should add value. When selecting plants carefully consider what each has to offer wildlife. Do they provide food such as such as nectar, berries, pollen or fruits? Or dense greenery for homes?
Hedgerow Plant Ideas for Georgia Landscapes:
This is part of our series on Creating a Wildlife Friendly Garden. For suggestions on what types of plants would be best for wildlife hedgerow and backyard habitat in zone 7b Georgia see:
Evergreen Trees and Shrubs for Hedgerows:
Evergreen Shrubs for Hedgerows:
- Anise – Native, shade. Evergreen shrub for shelter and safe passage.
- Dwarf Arborvitae – Native, sun, western red cedar. Evergreen shrub for shelter and safe passage.
- Camellia – Shade. Flowering evergreen shrub for shelter, safe passage, home sites and blooms offer a food source for bees, butterflies and pollinators.
- Hollies – Native and non-native, sun to part shade, provides shelter, nesting sites, safe passage as well as food for pollinators and birds. Be sure to select a holly which produces berries!
- Mountain Laurel – Native, nectar for bees and pollinators, shelter.
- New Jersey Tea – Native, semi evergreen. Nectar for bees and pollinators, shelter.
- Southern Wax Myrtle – Native, sun to part shade. Provides shelter, nesting sites and food for pollinators and birds.
More on Creating a Wildlife Friendly Landscape
This is part of our series on Creating a Wildlife Friendly Garden.
Custom Wildlife Garden Design Georgia
If you are a resident of North Georgia and would like to discuss creating a wildlife friendly hedgerow on your property, please contact us at Art of Stone Gardening.