Hedging Plants

Five of the Best Native Hedging Plants 

Native hedges are an important part of our natural heritage. They provide an excellent habitat for wildlife and have many functional uses such as providing a natural barrier to keep stock in, marking boundaries, providing security and acting as windbreaks and screening.
Our native hedge rows have been diminishing due to intensive farming techniques and urban expansion, and with it the loss of our wildlife. The dormouse, hedgehogs, ground beetles and native birds are all in danger! By planting native hedging we can extend the natural habitat, which in turn will provide food and shelter for the wild life that depends upon it. 
Different features of a hedgerow will be important to different species. The more diverse in composition a hedgerow is the more species it is likely to support, due to the varying flowering and fruiting times. In general, native hedge plants will support many more species than non-native plants. 

Prunus spinosa


Prunus spinosa (Common Blackthorn) is a dense, deciduous shrub, with dark green oval shaped leaves and dark spiny branches. Blackthorn blooms early (before its leaves develop) and traditionally heralds the end of winter. Masses of white flowers appear in March/April time and in autumn they are followed by small black fruits which are very attractive to wild birds. Prunus spinosa is suitable for most soils and will thrive both on quite poor and heavy soils.

Crataegus monogyna


Crataegus monogyna (Common Hawthorn) is the most widely used native hedging plant. Small white, fragrant flowers appear in early spring and turn to small red berries in the autumn providing much needed food for wild birds. Hawthorn is a thorny, deciduous plant. Its leaves are bright green and 3, 5 or 7 lobed. It grows fast and needs to be trimmed after flowering or in the autumn. Crataegus monogyna is a very good choice for urban planting because it is very tolerant of air pollution. It will also grow in most types of soil (even dry and wet soils). 

Acer campestre


Acer campestre (Common Field Maple) is a deciduous plant with 5 lobed leaves which are tinged red in spring, turning to green, then yellow in autumn. Small greenish-yellow flowers appear in May. They are then followed by winged seeds in autumn. Field maple likes most soils (even heavy clay) and positions accept shade. It is recommended to trim in late autumn.

Fagus sylvatica


Fagus sylvatica (Common Beech) is grown for its superb foliage which is bright green in a growing season, turns rich copper in autumn and retains throughout the winter. A hedge will keep more of its leaves if trimmed in late summer. Beech will grow in any well drained type of soil but is not suitable for heavy clay and very wet sites. Fagus sylvatica provides perfect wildlife shelter when other deciduous hedging species are loosing their leaves. 

Carpinus betulus

December 2015

Carpinus betulus (Common Hornbeam) is very similar to Beech. It has similar shape leaves which will turn brown/grey in autumn and will retain throughout the winter (although it tends to lose more leaves than Beech). In contrast to Fagus sylvatica, Hornbeam will do well in frost pockets, heavy wet soils and exposed sites. The best time for trimming is late summer.