Australian Hedgerows: Hedgerows are an important feature of the rural landscape in Great Britain. They are living fences composed of a range of different plants. A great deal of Britainís native vegetation has disappeared after centuries of agriculture and urban development. Hedgerows provide an important haven for wildlife.
In Australia we have also lost a great deal of native vegetation particularly the shrub layer. This loss of the shrub layer has impacted on the smaller species of native birds. Honeyeaters, wrens and thornbills are some of the birds, which rely on a range of native shrubs for food, shelter and nesting sites. Small birds vanish when the shrub layer is cleared. Areas with reasonable tree cover with no understorey shrubs often support a wide range of larger birds such as Currawongs, Magpies, Butcherbirds and Parrots with no small birds.
How do we help our small Australian birds? Establishing hedgerows is one way to create wildlife habitat. How do we define an Australian hedgerow? An Australian hedgerow will have two or three rows of shrubs, closely planted, with a maximum height of about three metres. Two or three small trees could be included in each hedgerow. English hedgerows usually contain a small range of species whereas the Australian version has a huge number of species to choose from. Of course the length of a hedgerow depends on the room available. In a suburban garden a hedgerow could be planted against the back fence. In this case the hedgerow would be two rows deep. In the country hedgerows would be longer and perhaps three rows deep. One or one and a half metres is recommended spacing between plants and rows. This spacing allows the plants to overlap and form a dense and protective wall of vegetation.
A well-designed hedgerow, using a variety of shrubs, will attract many native birds. From our experience they will feed, shelter and build nests in your hedgerow. Using a wide variety of shrubs will improve the appearance of your domestic environment. From a human point of view: there will always be something in flower, there will be a range of foliage colour and texture and birds will bring song and movement.
Some suggestions for your Aussie hedgerow: Prickly hakeas for nesting sites; Grevilleas for nesting sites and nectar; Acacias for colour, foliage contrast and seeds for parrots; Eremophilas for colour and nectar; Correas for colour and nectar in winter; Banksias for foliage contrast and nectar in winter.
We will delve into suitable hedgerow varieties in the future.