Description and Benefits of Hedgerows
Hedgerows are rows or groups of trees, shrubs, perennial forbs, and grasses that are planted along field edges or other unused areas around a field. Hedgerows consisting of native plants require minimal maintenance once established and can provide many benefits to farmers and non-farmers alike. They can reduce wind erosion, improve the permeability of the soil, suppress weeds by direct competition, provide wildlife habitat, and provide habitat for beneficial insects.
Hedgerows with a dense perennial grass understory can also filter surface runoff and subsurface flows, preventing excess sediment, nutrients, and pesticides from entering waterways. They also provide an aesthetic benefit to the landscape.
When to Use Hedgerows
Hedgerows are appropriate for areas between fields, along fencelines and driveways, adjacent to roads and roadside ditches, and next to canals or streams. Because of the many benefits associated with hedgerows, they can be installed in agricultural and nonagricultural situations. They are ideal for landowners with small parcels who want to improve the aesthetics and wildlife habitat on their land. In either case, site selection is important and there are three main considerations to account for. First, there needs to be access to water for irrigating the hedgerow plantings for the first few years of establishment. Second, unless using wetland species, the site needs to be not subject to flooding, which will kill most of the native plants suited to dry conditions. Third, consider what equipment is used on the adjacent fields, roads, or canals, and be sure that the hedgerow will not hinder proper use of this equipment.