A vivid mosaic of interconnecting hedgerows, shaws and woodlands provide the distinctive visual structure of the High Weald landscape.
Hedges represent decisions made by our ancestors over many hundreds of years. Many High Weald hedges are remnants of the ancient wildwood which once covered the area.
All hedges, whether unplanted or planted, serve a function. They indicate land ownership, support livestock management, provide shelter for farm animals and crops, help conserve soil and water, and would once have been a source of timber and fuel.
They also provide homes, food and shelter for a huge range of insects, birds and mammals, particularly when combined with a rough grass margin.
How we can help you
We provide practical support to landowners and communities seeking to manage, restore and plant hedges in the Weald, including:
- Advice on hedge management techniques and cutting regimes
- Guidance on suitable native trees and shrubs for newly-planted hedges
- Details of grant schemes to support hedge creation, restoration and management projects.
- Direction to other land managers and contractors who may be able to offer you practical advice and support.
Hedge management is a vital part of maintaining the High Weald’s unique character.
While hedge management is an important land management activity, some of the methods – such as coppicing or hedge laying – can appear damaging or destructive to the untrained eye.
Many hedges run along public rights of way, providing an excellent opportunity to educate the general public on these traditional countryside skills.
With this in mind, we have produced a hedge management information board for landowners across the High Weald to display near any works taking place on their land.
The boards are currently being displayed at a number of hedge restoration projects across the High Weald, with lots of positive feed back from both landowners and hedge-layers. If you are interested in receiving a board for use on your land, please get in touch.
Suitable hedgerow plants for the High Weald
Shrubs and trees for all rural hedges and situations:
- Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) – spiny; has white flowers in May; sloes in October.
- Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) – spiny; has white flowers in March – April, red berries in autumn.
- Field Maple (Acer campestre) – a light shrub or tree; has delicate leaves turning butter yellow in autumn; thrives with trimming.
- Hazel (Corylus avellana) – a very traditional hedgerow shrub or coppice tree; has soft round leaves and bears hazel nuts in autumn.
- Holly (Ilex aquifolium) – glossy, dense evergreen with spiky leaves and red berries in autumn and winter.
- Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) – native only to the southern half of Britain; dense, serrated leaves; clusters of papery seeds in autumn.
- Elder (Sambucus nigra) – white scented flowers in June ; glossy black berries in autumn.
- Wild Dog Rose (Rosa canina) – thorny, rambling rose with delicate leaves; pink-white flowers in June; red hips in autumn and winter.
- Spindle (Euonymus europaeus) – leafy shrub with lovely pink and orange berries.
- Yew (Taxus baccata) – our only native conifer; dense evergreen needles and red berries.
Trees that will grow as hedges or mature specimens:
- Beech (Fagus sylavatica) – grows into stately tree if untrimmed; retains dense orange-brown leaves all winter.
- Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) – feathery leaves, turning yellow in autumn; decorative clusters of seeds or ‘keys’ retained all winter.
- Alder (Alnus glutinosa) – large round leaves; catkins in spring and black woody ‘cones’ in winter; thrives especially in damp soils and along water.
Trees for growing to maturity in hedges (also any of the above list):
- Wild Cherry or Gean (Prunus avium) – tall, delicate trees; white blossom in spring; red fruit in summer and red leaves in autumn.
- Oak (Quercus robur) – will grow within hedges, but ideally should be allowed to mature into our most traditional and best-known tree; has acorns in autumn.
Note – the above plants are all native to Britain and appropriate to the High Weald.
There are many different varieties of most of the above plants now available in nurseries, which have been bred for their ornamental qualities and are not native to Britain.
It is important to check the exact Latin name, as given above, to ensure the native species has been chosen.
Download our guidance
Please note these links take you to external websites.