A hedge is a wildlife haven year-round. A thicket of hawthorn, blackthorn and other shrubs hides and protects songbird nests. The same shrubs provide berries for birds and small mammals. Adjacent to it, perennial grasses and herbs make nesting cover for pheasant, partridge and yellowhammer. Butterflies like comma, gatekeeper and small tortoiseshell live on the knapweed, scabious and nettle found along hedgerows.
Key features to look after are:
- A variety of shrubs, some of which provide berries and fruit.
- A square profile, which does not invade the adjacent bank and which is trimmed in alternate years to allow half of the farm hedges to retain their berries through winter.
- An adjacent bank (at least 1 metre in width) which contains perennial grass and flowers. This bank should be protected from herbicide drift and crop fertilizer ortherwise it can degrade into a blanket of sticky cleavers or invasive sterile broom. The hedgerow can also create the sheltered conditions suitable for a wildflower or pollen and nectar area.