The Ashridge Nurseries Blog

Our Top Tips For The Season: no. 4

Love cats and want a bird friendly hedge?

If you love cats and want to create a bird-friendly hedge, make sure you have a few thorny plants included, which we have done in our bird friendly hedging. Once the hedge is mature, most birds will be happy to build a nest in it and the cats will play elsewhere rather than risk pricking themselves on thorns.

Prepare the ground

It’s good to feed birds but you’ll attract far more by having a decent habitat for them. In creating a hedge, prepare the site well. It will be there for some time, so a good start for young plants makes sense. Remove weeds, stones and rubbish. Watch our video on how to plant a country hedge and use rootgrow to speed establishment.

Get some protection

When planting a hedge remember to protect the plants against rabbits and deer with spirals and canes. Cut non-formal hedging back by 50% immediately after planting as this makes the plants bush out.

Water the plants

Most of our plants are native to the UK and are grown here. Please remember to water the plants for at least a year after planting, especially during dry weather. It’s amazing how many people forget to do that and then wonder why their hedge has died.

Prune your hedges in year 1 and 2

Prune hedges to keep them full of cover for the birds. To make sure they have sprouts at the base so you have a solid wall of a hedge, cut them back again in the second year, about 12 months after the first time you reduced their height.

No space for a hedge?

If you don’t have space for a hedge in your garden, try planting a climbing plant up the side of your garden fence. A wild rose such as the simple dog rose will do.

Already have a hedge?

If you already have a hedge in your garden that is mature, you can still add to its wildlife friendliness by planting bulbs in the green at the base. These will help attract insects and therefore birds.

Brighten up conifer and privet hedges with climbing roses

Conifer and privet hedges aren’t the most glamorous of hedges but still make a good safe and warm resting spot for birds.

Fruiting plants also attract the birds

The likes of cherry trees, raspberries and plum trees are the perfect food for robins and thrushes, plus many other birds.

Want to see them from the kitchen?

If you like being able to see birds from your kitchen, place a feeder near a window. You’ll be rewarded by the sight of birds fluttering past and stopping to nibble: it’s a great way to make the experience of washing up more enjoyable.

Don’t forget that birds need water

Don’t forget that birds need water, particularly seed-eating ones. They need to bathe and keep their feathers in good condition so they can keep themselves warm in winter. They also need to drink. If you are going to create a birdbath, make sure it is in a place where they can see everything around them and have bushes or hedges nearby for them to go and perch on and preen, as well as dry off. Ponds are great as well, but one area needs to be shallow so the bird can stomp around and flutter. If it’s really cold, break any ice that forms so the birds can still have access to the water.

Install some nestboxes

The eaves of a house are a great sheltering or nesting site if the roof projects beyond the wall. House martins love them. Install nestboxes where you can for starlings and sparrows. Or grow a big rambling rose such as Wedding Day into a tree - it will create just the sort of nesting habitat sparrows love.

There is also a lovely Pinterest page which includes an old boot and straw hat!, have a look: Pinterest Nestbox page

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