Woodland &
Hedgerow

A Native Hedgerow

A native hedgerow is an excellent habitat for wildlife. Birds willfrequent the bushes for food and shelter. Small creatures will inhabit the lower parts and bees and butterflies will traverse the edge. If the hedge adjoins the mini-wood it will also provide a corridor for the safe travel of all kinds of creatures.

Requirements

  • 1.
    Native shrubs about 1m tall. Suitable ones (in approximate quantities) are: Hawthorn 55%, Holly 5%, Hazel 5%, Blackthorn 10%, Elderberry 5%,Honeysuckle 2%, Wild Roses 4%, Ivy 2% and Bramble 2%.
  • 2.
    Trees could form about 10% of hedgerow. Suitable ones are: Rowan, Crab Apple, Silver Birch, Aspen, Wych Elm, Bird Cherry and Field Maple.

Planting

  • 1.
    Dig a trench about 30 cm. wide and the depth of a spade, in March or April.
  • 2.
    Add plenty of organic matter such as well-rotted manure, compost, leaf mould or soil conditioner to the trench and mix it well with the soil at the bottom.
  • 3.
    Plant the whips about 30 cm. apart in two staggered rows. Leave a space of about 20 cm. between each row.
  • 4.
    Plant the trees at random along the middle of the trench.
  • 5.
    Back-fill the trench with the excavated top-soil.
  • 6.
    Mulch with thick layers of newspapers or cardboard and bark mulch.

Management and After-care

  • 1.
    Cut the tops of the shrubs after planting to about one third of their lengths.
  • 2.
    Prune them hard again the second year.
  • 3.
    Don't touch the hollies for a number of years. Trim them then if they look scraggly.
  • 4..
    Keep it mulched until it matures.
  • 5.
    Sow wildflowers such as bluebells, violets, wild arum, herb Robert, lesser celandines, foxgloves, wild strawberries and primroses a couple of years after planting.
  • 6.
    Always cut the hedgerow in early winter to cause the least inconvenience to wildlife. Aim for an "A" shaped profile-narrow at the top and wide at the bottom.

Glossary

Whips - Trees and shrubs which are about a half to one metre high. They grow very quickly once they are planted.
Rustic Fence - A fence made from rough lengths of forestry thinnings or native wood such as ash. The main cross-sections are about 180 cm. inlength; the uprights are about 120 cm in length.
Mulching - A method of suppressing weeds by smothering them with thick layers of newspapers, cardboard, plastic or old carpet. This process ensures that the roots of the plants do not dry out. It also warms the soil and encourages beneficial worm activity.

How to make
A Mini-Wood and Native Hedgerow

This project is supported by the Department of the Environment Environmental Partnership Fund.

Mini Wood

A mini-wood will greatly enhance school grounds. It can vary in size from 10 to 100 sq. metres or more. An area of about 50 sq metres is ideal. A mini-wood will become a focus of study throughout the year. It is the ideal place to study seasonal change.
Children can observe snowdrops, anemones, buds and catkins in spring;bluebells, primroses and unfolding leaves unfolding in summer;
fruit, fungi, leaf change and fall in autumn;
and tree outlines and shapes in winter.
A small pile of logs, beneath the trees adds interest to a mini wood by providing a habitat for insects, small creatures and fungi.

Requirements

  • 1.
    An area of fertile ground.
  • 2.
    Native bare-rooted whips. These are about 0.5 to 1 metre tall. Space tree whips about 2 metres apart; shrubs about 1 metre apart.
  • 3.
    Cardboard, newspapers, black polythene or old carpet to act as a weed suppressor.
  • 4.
    Bark chippings.
  • 5.
    Old logs. Place plastic under logs to prevent spread of fungi.
  • 6.
    After about two years flowers such as bluebells, primroses, wood anemones, wild garlic and violets could be introduced. These need damp conditions and dappled shade.

Work Schedule

  • 1.
    Order bare-rooted whips and shrubs in early March.
  • 2.
    When they arrive make sure the roots don't dry out. Keep them covered by placing them in black polythene sacks and tying these tightly.
  • 3.
    On planting day make T shaped slits in the ground where each plant is to be inserted.
  • 4.
    Get children to insert the plants with the help of parents and teachers. Make it a gala occasion!
  • 5.
    Water them well.
  • 6.
    Mulch by placing the old carpet, papers, polythene or cardboard around the plants. If newspapers are used make sure thick layers are laid down.
  • 7.
    Leave space for a path at least one metre in width, to wind between the trees and shrubs.
  • 8.
    Cover the cardboard etc. with a thick layer of bark mulch or chippings.

Management and After-care

  • 1.
    The area must be kept weed free.
  • 2.
    As the plants mature add ferns and wild flowers.
  • 3.
    Thin the plants after about five years, if they seem overcrowded.
  • 4.
    Erect a rustic fence with a stile in front of the mini-wood. This can look very attractive.
ext:Patrick Madden
Illustrations:Eileen Fleming
Editor / Photographs:Marian Rollins Web Page Design:Taran Pyper 2013

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