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Old 12-31-2009, 10:23 AM  
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Virginia
Default The Essential Hedgerow

Note: Much has been written about non-native species used in gardening, many of which were introduced to North America as hedging plants. The unfortunate results of these introductions are evident and the argument against their use is clear. I advocate only...
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By biigblueyes on 01-25-2010, 10:02 PM

Nice article! I for one didn't know the difference between a hedge and a hedgerow. A hedgerow would be more my style. I refuse to prune most plants. It can't bring myself to butcher a plant to make it look like a square green box. Its natural shape is good enough for me.
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By hazelnut on 01-26-2010, 12:02 PM

I think most plants require little or no pruning if they are planted properly with enough space for their natural form. Yet, one of the most frequent questions people ask abut plants on the internet is 'how can I prune my xyz?".

If it needs pruning it probably should not have been planted where it is. And overcrowding is probably one of the the biggest mistakes that people make in planting their yards.
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By Hedgerowe on 01-26-2010, 12:04 PM

How do you feel about occasional pruning for the benefit of wildlife, hazelnut?
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By hazelnut on 01-26-2010, 12:11 PM

How do you mean, Hedgerowe? What Ive noticed is that animals naturally prune plants as they use them. They scrape away grasses to make a little bed for them selves. They crack off twiggs. They chew on branches which can force new growth beneath the buds they have chewed away. And heavy browsers can force a shrub into multi-trunked growth so that there is more to browse on later on.
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By Hedgerowe on 01-26-2010, 12:20 PM

Well, I guess I am thinking of pruning for increased berry production (such as with raspberries), or to keep smaller plants from being overwhelmed. I understand the principle of only planting things that fit but some of us would like to provide the most diverse habitat possible, given our space. Surely it cannot be a bad thing to prune occasionally for optimum wildlife benefit? The alternative might be of reduced wildlife value.
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By hazelnut on 01-26-2010, 12:30 PM

I think the idea of a hedgerow is that it would be pretty much self sustaining - eventually. But Im sure the old English and Scottish one's are managed in a number of ways to increase their productivity. Ive read for example about 'laying over' the trees - bend saplings over and weighing them down with pegs so that they produce more new growth.
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By Hedgerowe on 01-26-2010, 12:46 PM

English hedgerows are actively managed for wildlife, or it is strongly encouraged that land owners manage them as such. There are many hedgerows there that are legally protected as wildlife and/or heritage sites or structures. From what I have read, hedge laying is an art that takes many years of practice to perform well. Here is a link to a hedge laying group NHLS - Home page
"Committed to conserving hedgerows through traditional skills"
(ooh, makes my heart go pitter-patter to hear language like that!) Okay, I do have the bug badly, but to me this is a fascinating intersection of environmentalism and culture. There is no way that the English countryside will ever again be "natural," so wise hedgerow management is a "best practices" solution.

Laying hedges is just one of the techniques in managing hedgerows. Other techniques include "Trimming" and "Coppicing" (Cutting off at ground level to encourage the hedge to regenerate)...Where farmers keep cattle or sheep a good hedge is essential, for although barbed wire fences can easily be erected they do not provide shelter like a hedge. Hedges are also important for our wildlife and for their scenic value. A well-managed hedgerow is thick and bushy, an impenetrable barrier to sheep and cattle and a haven for wildlife.
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By hazelnut on 01-26-2010, 05:45 PM

I live in an area which has been farmed since the 1820s. The farmers (planters) brought in osage orange (native to Ohio-Illinois area) which were planted as small whips to grow into hedgerows around the properties. There are still thousands and thousands of these growing along property lines in this part of the south. I have them on two sides of my property. There are articles in the local newspaper at the time that this was the solution to containing range animals - cows and hogs which normally ran loose on the plantations. The trees were strung with hog wire - a woven wire that you can find still imbedded in the trees. Most of the farmers in this area were irish immagrants or of Irish decent (2nd generation Irish) and these fence rows were a replica of a similar method used to fence in the Irish estates.

I recently talked to someone who was interested in sustainable gardening. She is planting these osage oranges to use as fire wood. She harvests the wood by coppicing the trees so that they will eventually be a perpetual source of fire wood.
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By Hedgerowe on 01-26-2010, 05:57 PM

Coppicing and pollarding are ways of pruning trees and shrubs for use as biomass, that is an ancient pratice throughout the Old World. Makes sense, as it is a way of utilizing the wood for energy that allows the tree to regenerate for future harvests. Many people in this part of the world are horrified at the thought of pruning large branches from trees on a regular basis, and I can't tell you how many times I have seen the practice described as ugly, resulting in deformed trees. Beauty and utility are in the eye of the beholder, I guess. Where wildlife fits into the practice, I cannot say.
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By hazelnut on 01-26-2010, 06:12 PM
Default osage orange

the osage orange is a very long lived tree (mine were planted in the 1830s). It commonly is a multi-trunked tree so it could be maintained for many years as a large shrub. I don't know how many animals eat the seeds and fruits-- I most commonly see squirrels.

The tree is so shrubby coppicing really would not look "deformed" for very long.

Photo: Equilibrium.

What I mean to say is, if you look around at the characteristics of local plants you are likely to find something that is multi-purpose and that will fit in your hedgerow.
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