Caption: Mixed hedge to encourage wildlife
The weather here is still wet and wild, but the snowdrops are flowering and spring may soon be here!
I want to plant a new length of hedge, so sat down last night to plan. Bare root plants are now available and can be planted up to the end of February whilst they are still dormant.
Firstly quantity – how many plants do I need? I prefer to plant smaller plants, as they establish quicker, so 5-7 plants per metre is about right. I want a good variety to attract the wildlife, but based on Hawthorn as 50%. I want to add some Dog Rose, Field Maple, Hazel and Spindle. Other options are Crab Apple, Blackthorn, Bird Cherry and Rowan. I think I will add a few Holly plants and some honeysuckle (this gets very untidy – but I love the smell!) These plants all add seeds and fruits for the birds to eat and a variety of shapes, textures and colour.
Next step is preparation. I have to first put up a new stock proof fence to stop the sheep on the common helping themselves to the tender and tasty, new plants. The ground then needs clearing and digging over well. I also dig in some Lakeland Gold to enrich the soil before planting and provide a good rooting medium.
I prefer to plant in a staggered double row to make a wider base of hedge and space the plants out about 30cm apart. After planting, firm the soil around and then water the plants in (this may not be necessary!!). Finally I will add a good layer of Lakeland Gold as a mulch to keep the roots moist and stop the weeds establishing.
It may take up to two years to fully establish the hedge – so, for the best results, remember to keep weeding and watering.