Good hedging plants

The best wildlife hedges consist of a mix of native broad-leaved species that are allowed to grow tall (180 cm or so) and thick. If you have space, plant a double staggered row with about 15 to 20 cm between the rows and 30 to 35 cm between the plants. Use a mix of native varieties such as hawthorn, field maple, hornbeam or hazel, plus beech on lighter soils. Add interest with an occasional guelder rose, spindle or wild rose.

You can also create valuable ornamental hedges with non-native shrubs such as Berberis. The species listed below are a good source of nectar and also good for nesting birds. Birds will also nest in Pyracantha and feast on its berries in autumn.

Height (cm) Spread (cm) Sun or shade Soil Habit Management/notes
Native shrubs
Field maple Acer campestre 180 90 sun semishade D Prune or coppice in winter
Hazel Corylus avellana 240 150 sun semishade D Coppice
Hornbeam Carpinus betulus 200 60 sun heavy D Prune in August; coppice
Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna 120 - 240 60 sun shade D Clip in August/coppice
Beech Fagus sylvatica 200 60 sun light D Prune in August
Holly Ilex aquifolium 90 120 sun semishade E Prune in August, coppice
Sweet briar Rosa rubiginosa 150 60 sun semishade D Prune in winter
Yew Taxus baccata 200 8 semishade shade E Clip/prune in August; poisonous to livestock
Non-native shrubs
Berberis darwinii 180 120 sun semishade E Prune in April
Berberis julianae 180 120 sun semishade E Prune in April
Berberis x stenophylla 180 120 sun semishade E Clip/prune in April
Cotoneaster simonsii 150 90 sun shade Semi Prune in winter
Privet Ligustrum vulgare 150 150 sun Semi Prune in March; trim in August if necessary
Firethorn Pyracantha rogersiana 150 120 semishade E Prune in April
Sun or shade: sun = sun; semishade = semi-shade; shade = shade
Habit: D = deciduous; E = evergreen; Semi = semi-evergreen