In Praise of the Hedgerow


No I’m not going to try to interpret those Led Zeppelin lyrics. But hedgerows? They rock.

The traditional practice of letting nature have part of the farm turns out to have many benefits. Beneficial insects love hedgerows. A University of California study, Hedgerows enhance beneficial insects on farms in California’s Central Valley, backs this up and discusses specific plants.

Wouldn’t it be cool if whole cities could function as hedgerows? What if we took out all those lawns and planted native and/or flowering climate-appropriate plants instead?

In a somewhat rambling lecture I just gave to a group of Master Gardeners, I sang the praises of that UC study and also linked it to another nice resource, the UC Davis Arboretum Allstar list of plants that look good, provide habitat and don’t need a lot of maintenance.

Combine these two resources with a third, Piet Oudolf’s magnificent ideas about plant design in his book Planting: A New Persepctive and I think we might just be able to save the world.

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  1. I love my hedgerows, but my renter neighbors think it is called a “Hedge forest.” The hens do love to go there and eat and hide. I have a young friend who must have a fence but is going to leave a path around her yard wide enough to walk through and is going to try to convince her neighbors to do the same.

    • That was not clear. The neighbor lets the whole yard grow into a forest with brambles and underbrush for about 40 feet in her side of the fence. This house has been a rental for so long that there are mature trees in this mess, growing within a foot of each other. I am quite sure the animals love this area. I don’t!

  2. One or two of those wonderful British “Farm” programs feature the restoration of traditional hedgerows. I’m pretty sure it’s in the “Edwardian Farm” series, if anyone’s interested in taking a look. There’s quite an art to it, really, really fascinating.

    • Yes, it was Edwardian Farm.

      I am also thoroughly addicted to that series and my immediate reaction was I doubted anyone ever found a genuine hedgerow in CA.

  3. i want to know if i can use a black plastic bag and put into my bathtub, fill them with water, and leave them under the sun, and then i want to take a warm bath around 5pm. i live in southern arizona where are there are plenty of sun from 7am to 5pm. i want to take a warm or hot bath for healing purposes everyday if possible. anyone have any suggestion?

  4. Ah yes, but have they any hedgerows??? 😉

    I know that the former Native Tree person for the City of Glendale always used to cringe at the plantings they had under the native oaks there (eg camillias) because they were wrong, wrong, wrong for the trees (needed too much water, therefore weakening/killing the trees). Even though *he* (and others) knew this was wrong, it was not his jurisdiction. But, he would see the repercussions of it all the time when people who lived in Glendale would visit Descanso, see the examples there, go home and replicate the wrongness in their yards and then call him wondering why their lovely oaks were failing.
    Descanso finally had enough of the spate of magnificent old growth oaks toppling over due to disease, so, despite some opposition from people who were very attached to the plantings as they were, they did manage to go ahead with the project. Will be nice to see what they’ve done with the place!!!

    🙂 P

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