How to select and grow a native British hedge

Guide to selection and growing a traditional hedge

 What is a traditional hedgerow ?

Natural  hedgerows are a long lasting, wildlife friendly and sustainable alternative to garden fencing. Hedges also offer better Security than most fencing. Try climbing over or through Blackthorn, thieves won't. Native hedges are green, Eco friendly and a sustainable way of marking your garden and property boundary and makes an excellent habitat for butterflies and moths.

The bulkier and denser a hedge becomes, the more secure it becomes. In addition. providing cover and food for nesting birds and if you let them flower and bear fruit, hedges also provide a valuable source of food and shelter for other wildlife. 

Traditional hedgerows contain several different species like Hawthorn, Blackthorn and Dog rose and are back in fashion as secure and attractive alternatives to panel fencing around our garden.

How to Select native British Hedging Plants. When buying the hedging plants, try to get as close to the Native British hedgerow mix as possible to get colour, berries and security. The old farmers hedges you see dividing fields and roadside, traditionally included a mix of Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Crab apple, Guelder rose, Dog rose, Wild privet, Honey suckle, Hazel, Field maple and Holly. Making a secure and attractive hedge.

The correct percentage mix of hedging plants for a traditional hedge is; Blackthorn/Hawthorn 50%, Hazel/Field maple/Holly 35%. Crab apple/Guilder rose/Dog rose/wild Privet/Honey suckle 15%.

In a large garden you could include Ash, English oak and Sessile oak. trees . AVOID ELDER


More information about the hedging plants you can include in your hedge.

  • Crab apple. Crab-apple is a small, deciduous tree with thorns and pink buds and blossom in March, takes about five years to flower and fruit. Grows to about 10 ft over 10 years. Likes sheltered well drained sites.  Try making Crab apple Jelly from the fruit. Crab Apple can help skin to heal. The rotting fruit attracts the Red Admiral butterfly.
  • Blackthorn. Blackthorn is a very thorny tree with many white flowers in spring turning into dark blue berries in August. It grows to about 10 feet in 10 years.  A tonic helping bowel problems can be made from the flowers and fruit and sloe syrup helps with rheumatism. The berries are used to make Sloe gin. Walking sticks are still crafted from the wood. Blackthorn will grow in shady open and wet conditions and provides food and shelter for birds, butterflies and many other wildlife.  Helps make a boundary hedge secure and impenetrable. Try climbing through Blackthorn, the neighbourhood nasties won't!
  • Hawthorn. Hawthorn is very similar to blackthorn with scented white flowers in spring, followed by red berries it grows a little faster, to about 10 feet in eight years. Some trees have lived to 400 years old. Hawthorn can help circulation and heart problems. Like Blackthorn it will grow in shady, open and wet conditions and provides food and shelter for birds, butterflies and many other wildlife.
  • Hazel. Hazel is an attractive tree, producing hazelnuts in Autumn. Grows about a foot a year so works well in a traditional hedgerow and adds to the attraction with its catkins. Walking sticks, Shepherd crooks and baskets are still made from Hazel. It is important to the dormouse and other wildlife and the nuts make a nice treat at Christmas.
  • Field maple produces yellow-green flowers in spring followed by "helicopter" seeds and makes an interesting and attractive addition to the hedgerow growing at about the same rate as Hawthorn. OK in exposed, windy, but well drained sites. It is good for wildlife, including moths.

Purchasing a mix of hedging plants to grow your own Hedge

  • Buying Native Hedging. The mixture of Native hedging plants I have suggested can be purchased cheaply as bare root  or larger pot grown hedging plants from late autumn to early spring. 
  • For instant hedging pot grown hedging plants are available and can be planted at almost anytime throughout the year.
  • Planting Native Hedging plants. Preparing the ground by removing weeds and large stones, there is no need to remove small stones as these help drainage. Dig the area over and at the same time dig in some organic matter from your compost heap. 
  • Planting guide for a new hedge. To form a quick growing hedge plant the hedging plants in a staggered double row about 18" apart, planting to close will slow down the rate of growth. You can always fill in any gaps once the hedge starts to establish. Water well in and give your new hedge a thick mulch to reduce the need for weeding whilst the plants are setting root .


 Two offers

  • Our Best Value Mixed Native Hedgerow Bare Root Plant Hedge Scheme - just Choose The Size of Plants You are After and The Number of 25 Plant Packs You Need! (1-2ft)
  • Native Hedging Mix Bare Root (100 Plants for 20 metre Hedge) - Including Rabbit Guards and Canes (40-60cm)

Click for these and other hedging offers.

Short history of the British hedgerow and why it is disappearing fast.

Few things have helped create the look of the English countryside more than the hedgerows you can see from your car window whilst driving on the motorway.

Hedges have been used as field boundaries in Britain since the times of the Romans. The Anglo-Saxons also used hedgerows extensively, and many that were used as great estate boundaries still exist. Mainly hedges were used as field enclosures or to mark the boundaries of people's property, as they are today.

The farm field hedges you can see from your car window were a reaction to pressures of population expansion. Leading to a widespread clearing of land for agriculture, and the new fields needed to be marked clearly.


Not much has changed. However, these days the need to supply cheap food to feed the continuing world population explosion means less hedges and bigger open fields.


Big business and factory farmers are the main culprits.  Pulling up and destroying the hedgerows that divided our British countryside into the attractive patchwork of greens, browns and gold. Creating instead, the massive fields with swathes of yellow Rape seed. The same yellow stuff we see growing wild along motorway banks and verges unfortunately replacing our native wildflowers.


Lucrative E.U. subsidies are not paid to grow traditional British hedgerows or wildflowers! Instead, very lucrative EU subsidies are paid to landowners and factory farmers who rip up our traditional hedges and grow Rape seed.


To get the absolute maximum crop followed by the euro in the bank. Factory farmers plough right up to the base of the hedgerow to create the maximum growing area possible. Then, use herbicides, pesticides and fertilisers on the fields of Rape seed, causing damage to the remaining hedges. The hedge dies of or becomes to weak to act as a boundary and is then replaced with wooden or wire fences. Or removed to create even larger fields of rapeseed.