The Essential Hedge for Birds, Your Garden and Paddock Paradise

bird-friendly hedge

In ecological permaculture gardening, one cannot overlook the invaluable role of a bird-friendly hedge encircling your garden to welcome our feathered friends in our garden. A bird-friendly hedge is a vibrant ecosystem teeming with life, offering an abundance of benefits for our feathered friends and the entire garden. Let’s delve into the wonders of this living fence and explore why every permaculture garden should embrace its presence.

What is a Bird-Friendly Hedge?
A bird-friendly hedge is a carefully designed and planted boundary that incorporates a diverse range of native trees, shrubs, and plants. Unlike traditional hedgerows, a bird-friendly hedge is intentionally designed to attract and support a wide array of bird species. Birds find a bounty of insects, seeds, berries, and nectar within its embrace, supporting their dietary needs throughout the seasons. A dense and prickly hedge acts as a haven for nesting, protecting vulnerable chicks from predators and harsh weather.

How to create a bird-friendly hedge?
Planting a bird-friendly hedge requires thoughtful consideration to create an inviting habitat for our feathered friends. Begin by deciding if you want to plant a single or double row hedge. A double row produces denser results faster and is more impervious than a single row hedge. A double row hedge also provides extra shelter and foraging opportunities. A single row hedge should at least have a width of 50 cm to ensure the birds can hide well. The plants should be spaced at a suitable distance. In case of small size shrubs a suitable distance is 5 plants per meter. If you have larger shrubs, planting distance can be 2 plants per meter. If you plant with a double row, plants should be planted in a triangular pattern. Keep the distance between the rows at least 20 cm if you plant 4 plants per meter. Adequate watering is essential during the establishment phase, ensuring the young plants have the moisture they need to thrive. Using high-quality planting soil is vital, as it contains beneficial micro-organisms that kickstart the growth of your hedge. Ask your nursery for specific planting details.

Shrubs I used to plant my bird-friendly hedge:

  • Alpine currant (Ribes alpinum)
  • Rowan / Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia)
  • Privet (Ligustrum spp.)
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)
  • Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)
  • Sweetbriar rose / Eglantine (Rosa rubiginosa)
  • Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)
  • Rowan / Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia)
  • Hazel (Corylus avellana)
  • Field Maple (Acer campestre)
  • Holly (Ilex aquifolium)
  • Spindle Tree / European Spindle (Euonymus europaeus)
  • European Crabapple (Malus sylvestris)

Benefits for Your (Edible) Garden
Beyond its undeniable charm, the bird-friendly hedge becomes an invaluable ally for your edible garden. Birds help with pollination, ensuring a bountiful harvest of fruits and vegetables. As natural insect predators, they keep harmful pests in check, contributing to the ecological balance and natural pest control. The foraging activities of the birds aid in seed dispersal, further enriching biodiversity in the environment. With birds gracing your garden, you’ll discover a harmonious balance that promotes a flourishing and sustainable environment. The “cherry on the cake” is an abundance of happy singing and colorful birds, you can enjoy in your garden.

A Bird-friendly Edible Hedge for your Horses
Why limit the delights of the hedge to the avian inhabitants alone? Extend the bounty to your equine friends by selecting plants that are edible for horses into the hedge design. These nutritious delights not only supplement their diet but also provide valuable natural remedies. Incorporating a bird-friendly hedge along the tracks of a Paddock Paradise further elevates this innovative grazing system. The hedge becomes an enticing foraging element for horses, offering a diverse buffet of beneficial plants along their journey. It’s a win-win situation for the birds, your horses, your garden and the ecosystem. If you create an edible hedge for your horses, make sure they can’t eat the whole hedge bare. Place the hedge behind the fence at a distance they can only reach new growth. Before you plant an edible hedge for horses, do your research if the plants are really edible and don’t harm your horses. From my list above the following plants are edible for horses:

  • Alpine Currant (Ribes alpinum)
  • Rowan / Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia)
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)
  • Sweetbriar rose / Eglantine (Rosa rubiginosa)
  • Hazelnut / Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)
  • Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)

Other edible plants for horses you can easily mix into your bird-friendly hedges are for example:

  • White Alder (Alnus incana)
  • Black Alder (Alnus glutinosa)
  • Willow (Salix Alba)
  • Winter Linden (Tilia cordata)
  • Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa)

Open your arms to our avian companions
Embracing the enchantment of a bird-friendly hedge enriches the soul of any permaculture garden. By nurturing our feathered friends, we cultivate a diverse and sustainable ecosystem that benefits both wildlife and human cultivation. As the hedge becomes a living tapestry of life, it weaves together the wonders of nature and the joy of tending a harmonious and abundant permaculture garden. So, let’s open our arms to our avian companions and create a bird-friendly haven that will forever enhance the beauty and vibrancy of our beloved gardens.