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We are very pleased that so many of you who are planning new hedges are coming to us for advice on what to plant.  Do try to grow a variety of British native species and avoid a mono-culture of same plants. Disease, as we all know, can rage through single species so easily, as has happened with the ash trees on the Downs. 

Maybe you, like us, are losing Box  - is it blight or the moth?

We hope to replace our lost topiary with indigenous trees, for example;

Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia

Wild Service-tree (S.torminalis)

Common Whitebeam (S.aria)

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)

 Or, if you have more room,  Field Maple (Acer campestre) is such a wonderful host to so many pollinators and it does so well around here.


Beech (Fagus sylvatica) doesn`t drop its dead leaves which turn golden in winter, so good for privacy.   

Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea spp.) available in different varieties of lovely red, pink, orange and lime green stems in winter.  

Hawthorn, with its thorns to keep out unwanted guests and its burst of candyfloss flowers in spring, is an early pollinator, and host to so much bio-diversity.

Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) also has thorns but you can make yourself Sloe Gin for Christmas!  

Hazel (Corylus avellana) for lovely Catkins in spring and nuts later on. 

Holly (Ilex aquifolium) evergreen and available with such attractive foliage variations and red berries. 

Crab Apple (Malus sylvestris

Wild Pear (Malus pyraster) early leaves, late drop.

Guelder-rose (Vibernum opulus) not really a rose but such stunning white flowers. 

Dog Rose (Rosa canina) fleeting but delicate flowers.  

Alder Buckthorn (Frangula ulnus) host to the rare Brimstone Butterfly (image left supplied by Bob Eade).  It is difficult to get this year but we hope to have a supplier, so we can help.  But keep on mixing the species  to prevent disease and increase biodiversity.

Let us know about your hedge and how you are getting on. 

We will set up a register to add to our WILDLIFE CORRIDORS  to help more varied flora and fauna establish throughout Steyning and also help fight climate change


Looking after your new hedge


Planting your hedge is just the start of producing a new and valuable habitat for wildlife.

This leaflet explains what you can do to ensure the survival of as many of your plants as possible and to encourage the growth of a “proper” hedge in a few years time.


Early Maintenance


It is important to remove competitive grass and other weeds that will soon grow around the base of your hedge whips. Left untouched, they could deprive your plants of water and nutrients. Later on, the taller weeds could smother the whips, so that their leaves would not get enough sunlight for photosynthesis.

The use of plastic weed-suppressing membranes is NOT recommended as it may encourage voles to burrow under them and eat the hedge plant roots!

Possible alternatives to hand-weeding include very careful strimming or using a suitable mulch eg. wood chip or bark.


Watering is now becoming an important consideration in establishing hedges in our part of low rainfall south-east England.

Ideally, hedges are planted between October and December, when soil is moist and still warm. These conditions help the whips to start growing a new root system before cold weather takes hold. It is vital that generous watering is then carried out (in the absence of any significant heavy rain) and then further irrigation is essential as Spring growth commences.


After 2 or 3 years, it should be ok to remove the spirals and canes; we are happy to recycle them for you.


Later Maintenance


Left to their own devices, many of the hedge saplings will grow into rows of small trees. Untouched, this vertical “skinny” hedge will be much less wildlife friendly than a dense hedge with a wide base. The solution is to use secateurs or loppers to trim the hedge to a suitable height, for example 1.5 metres. Remember to prune to just above a side (lateral) bud. It is especially important to remove the terminal (apical) buds in order to encourage side growth and so thicken the base of the hedge.

NB once a hedge has become established, the best time to trim is in January or February (once berries have been eaten by birds). Hedge cutting should cease between 1st March and 1st July (bird nesting season).


We hope this information is useful and that you have success with your new and important habitat. If you have any queries, we shall be delighted to help:-


 - Please contact

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