The potential of natural hedges

Natural hedges are a structure with a high ecological value For a variety of animals. They are composed of indigenous shrubs which provide shelter but also food and a nesting place for insects, birds and mammals such as mice, hedgehogs and squirrels. They also serve as passage corridors for many species. The more variegated the hedge (composed of diverse, thorny and nonthorny, early- and late-flowering shrubs) the more species will benefit. Natural hedges are not only beneficial to biodiversity, but also very beautiful and colorful in all seasons and also often offer edible fruits to be eaten fresh or made into syrups, jams, or baked on tarts, as is the case with elderberries Sambucus nigra, of the dogwood tree Cornus mas or even blackthorn Prunus spinosa and the wild rose Rosehip.

Below, find out how to create a Natural hedge!

The natural hedge can consist of shrubs in combination with some small or large native trees. Ideally, the planting period for shrubs is from October to March.

Care should be taken to plant shrubs at a certain distance from each other (between 0.5 and 1.5 m) depending on their growth speed, to limit competition between different species.

The natural hedge requires much less frequent pruning than classic single-species hedges. Pruning should be done in the dormant period, in autumn or winter. For small hedges, selective pruning is recommended. It occurs every 2-5 years, pruning mainly fast-growing shrubs to favor slower-growing ones.

To make sure that there is a transition zone between hedge and lawn, it is indicated to mow a strip of lawn along the hedge of width 0.5-3 meters only once a year, in late summer or autumn. Even better would be to mow only half of the strip and leave the other half standing until the following fall, and then switch over and mow only the half left standing the year before. This way there will always be an area that serves as a shelter for many animals.

Below is a list of native species for a natural hedge:

Common name Scientific name
Wild rose Rosehip
Hairy honeysuckle Lonicera xylosteum
Blackthorn Prunus spinosa
Atlantic honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum
Common hop Humulus lupulus
Spinocervine Rhamnus cathartica
Opium, Snowball Viburnum opulus
Viburnum lantana Viburnum lantana
Dogwood dogwood Cornus sanguinea
Male dogwood Cornus mas
Red elderberry Sambucus racemosa
Black elderberry Sambucus nigra
Priest’s Cap Euonymus europaeus
Common privet Ligustrum vulgare
Common hazel Corylus avellana
Common Frangula Frangula alnus
Loquat vulgaris Mespilus germanica
Wild apple tree Malus sylvestris
Mountain ash Sorbus aria
Rowan of the birders Sorbus aucuparia
Cherry tree Prunus avium
Wild pear tree Pyrus pyraster
Goat willow Salix caprea
Common hornbeam Carpinus betulus
White alder Alnus incana


To know which species to choose, it is necessary to know the characteristics of the place such as soil moisture, exposure, pH, etc. If you do not know these factors, it is helpful to seek advice from a nursery.