Hedgerows for wildlife

Turn those unproductive edges of your farm into a haven for wildlife. A hedgerow is a dense, linear planting of trees, shrubs, forbs, or grasses. They provide shelter for wildlife, and support them with food such as nectar, pollen, and fruits. Hedgerows also enhance communities of beneficial insects.

Jarrod Fowler is a pollinator conservation and bio-control specialist with the Xerces Society. He says it’s important to assess your farm for the appropriate planting locations.

"In general, longer hedgerows with mature widths of 10’-15’ are best, but shorter and narrower hedges work well for small sites," says Fowler. "Flat or gently sloping sites in full sunlight that are easily accessible, have minimal weed pressure, and are protected from pesticide drifts are key for successful hedgerows."

Plantings can follow the property boundaries of many small farms, and become an interconnected network that extends for miles.

Fowler says Xerces recommends nine-to-twelve species of plants, with a minimum of three species that bloom each season during spring summer and fall.

"If one knows when their crops and neighborhood flowers bloom, then hedges can be designed to complement the landscape-scale bloom availability," he says. "So for example, imagine you might have an apple orchard that provides late spring bloom, you may wish to focus on planting early spring, summer, and fall blooming species to complement apple bloom."

Avoid choosing plants that aren’t native to your area, and species that might serve as alternate hosts for crop pests or diseases.

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