Hedges v Fences

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I don’t know what’s going on round my way but everyone seems to be pulling out their hedges to replace them with fencing…not good…boo!

Why? Well people seem to think that by putting in a panel fence it’ll reduce the maintenance they have to do, help stop dust and noise from a busy road and add more protection to the garden, in my experience it’s not so.

Firstly just like a hedge you do need to maintain a panel fence by re-treating it if you want it to last (which can be a real pain if you’ve grown plants up it). Secondly a solid fence can actually make road noise seem louder as the sound bounces off of the solid structure and it can also cause more turbulence in a garden as the wind is made to tumble and swirl over the top of the fence damaging delicate plants on the other side.

Whereas the plants in a hedge actually help to absorb sound and dust, as well as gently slowing down wind leading to much less turbulence in the garden. The other positives about hedges are that they’re great for wildlife (especially if you go for a mixed native hedge), whether it’s nesting or roosting birds, over wintering insects or just by providing the wildlife with a food source. And another down side of a solid fence is that it can restrict the movement of hedgehogs that naturally roam from garden to garden.

Oh and hedges look way more attractive than an orange panel fence! Yes, I know they need cutting but by choosing the right varieties you can keep maintenance to one main cut and just a light trim in late autumn. The mistake most people make is to go for plants that grow quickly… so that they screen quickly which in turn means that they need to be clipped more. I’d suggest going for things like Holly, Hawthorne, Griselinia, Hornbeam, Pittosporum, Berberis, Yew and Beech.

If you’re establishing a new hedge it’s best to plant in the autumn, spacing 30-60cm apart (depending on variety) as either a single row or double for a wider hedge and use small young plants as they settle in more readily, making sure the soil’s well prepared as the hedge is going to be there way longer than a panel fence, ‘specially with all this gusty windy weather we seem to be getting.

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