This weekend (15/16 February 2014) we’ve been inundated with people considering replacing wind-damaged fencing with new hedging – wondering if they’d be making the right decision.
When you pay for permanent fencing you expect it to last 10 years or perhaps more but our next door neighbour has hazel hurdle fencing, put up 3 years ago (it might even be just 2 years ago – I can’t quite remember) and quite a lot of it ended up in our garden after the storms last week. That’s a very short lifespan for quite an expensive fence. I would think that quite a lot of the fencing that’s blown down or badly damaged in the tremendous storms were less than 10 years old.
Aside from the “instant” benefit of fencing, I think there’s a rather impressive list of benefits that hedging has over fencing beginning with
- Hedging acts as a windbreak in that it filters the wind coming at it which protects whatever is on the other side in the lee of the wind. Of course farmers have planted hedging for centuries for this very reason. Apparently the lee (filtered wind area) is about 10m for every 1m height of hedging or indeed trees, reducing in protection the further away from the hedge. On farms, this gives an area where livestock can shelter – in your garden, it gives a sheltered area where plants are protected from the fiercest winds. On nurseries all across the land, owners use “windbreak netting” which is tall, immediate, effective but waver thin to replace hedging without creating any shade (which would reduce the usable area of some nursery beds) and without taking up 1m of space as a hedge would (which would reduce production on a nursery) – here’s a photograph of ours.
- I’d say that the next most important reason for planting a hedge would be attractiveness. Of course there are some attractive fences (I’m sure there must be and I don’t want to get in trouble with fence manufacturers!) but I for one would rather look at a hedge which changes colour through the seasons, has flowers or berries or both, or stays the exact shade of green I’ve selected as the background to a colourful border
- Hedging is flexible – I can have it whatever height I want, make it higher in some areas than others, change the height in years to come if that suits me better
- It ought to last for a very long time. Some Yew hedging will be a hundred years old (Jenn could you use a photo of the curvy fluid looking Yew hedge I took a couple of months ago), and a great deal of the Privet that’s used for front garden hedging all across Britain was planted in the post war building boom
- The prickly species can be great to deter intruders but they have other uses to. We have supplied a university with thousands of metres of Pyracantha which they planted to keep the students on the paths. Climb through a pyracantha hedge (or any of the other prickly species like Hawthorn, Blackthorn, or half a dozen Berberis varieties) at your peril!
- Conifer hedging is a great noise buffer – it won’t eliminate road noise but a good dense tall Leylandii, Western Red Cedar or Yew hedge will definitely make it less noticeable
- All plants absorb pollution (turning carbon dioxide into oxygen). There’s quite a bit of emerging evidence that the planting of trees in streets, contributes to a much healthier environment and although you may not be able to lobby your Council to make yours a leafy street, you can certainly have a front hedge (go for a species like Privet which is really pollution tolerant)
- We mustn’t forget our wildlife friends – from bees, moths, butterflies, other beneficial insects, to hedgehogs (of course!), and other little creatures – hedging particularly in urban areas acts as a wildlife corridor enabling wildlife to move about in relative safety
- It’s cheap! The cheapest way to plant a hedge is to use 40/60cm Hawthorn bare root plants which are 59p each plus vat. For a 10m run, you’d need a min of 5 per metre, so that would be 50 plants (70 would be better but 5 pm is ok and I’m doing this example to show how cheap it is). That’s £54 including vat and for orders over £40 it’s free delivery so this example qualifies. Or you could sign up for our newsletters and we sometimes have 10% discount offers! Although it’ll take time to grow, in just a few years, it’ll be over 6ft, thick, impenetrable, and beautiful! 10 metres (that’s quite a long hedge) of 6ft tall (or taller) beautiful hedging for £54 and a bit of effort – why would anyone on a budget use fencing?
- And finally, it’s easy to do. If you’ve never planted a hedge before, perhaps the thought makes you a bit nervous. But honestly it’s as easy as planting bedding plants in your flowering border
If any customers would like to add their own reasons to this list, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or if anyone has any good photographs of broken fencing (before) and beautiful hedging (after) I’ll add them to this blog.