Creating a Biodiversity Bank
Even though native hedgerows are excellent for enhancing biodiversity some people are reluctant to plant them because they mistakenly think they are difficult to create (1)
Their creation does require some careful planning but when species are selected, and an order of planting decided the planting itself is very straightforward. Plant in any month with an “r” except April and September.
Nothing is written in stone regarding the variety of species to grow and the amount of each species to include in the hedgerow. Indeed, a native hedgerow could comprise just one species such as Holly (Ilex aquifolium) (2).
The shrubs for planting are regarded as “whips” which are plants that are 30cm to 60cm in height (3). Five good ones to select for the spine of the hedgerow with their recommended proportions in the hedgerow are these: Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) or Sceach gheal in Irish (c.55%); Holly (Ilex aquifolium) or Cuileann in Irish (c.5%); Hazel (Corylus avellana) or Coll in Irish (c.5%); Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) or Draighean in Irish (c.10%); Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) or Trom in Irish (c.5%). Grow this at the edges of the hedgerow. Wild privet (Ligustrum vulgare) and Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) could also be included.
Good climbers to include in the hedgerow are Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) or Féithleann in Irish (c.2%); Wild roses (Rosa canina and Rosa rubiginosa) (c.4%); Ivy (Hedera helix) or Eidhneán in Irish (2%); Bramble (Rubus fruticosus) or Dris in Irish (c.2%).
Finally, about 10% of the hedgerow should comprise native trees such as Rowan, Crab apple and Silver birch.
The hedgerow should be planted in double rows in a zig zag fashion with 30cm between each plant and about 20cm between rows (4). A nice visual effect is obtained by planting in blocks of c. five of the same species together. A planting scheme could go like this: 5 holly, 5 hawthorn, 5 hazel, 5 hawthorn, 5 blackthorn, 5 hawthorns etc. (5). Mulch between plants with layers of damp newspaper and cover this with bark mulch for a nice visual effect. This mulching suppresses weeds and conserves moisture at the roots of the plants (6).