To be wildlife friendly it needs to provide a combination of shelter from the elements and predators, a supply of food and good breeding sites. A good hedge will be composed of a mixture of native species to encourage a variety of wildlife. Consider using 50% hawthorn in with a selection of three or four other species to add diversity. Other good species to use are blackthorn, field maple, dog wood, common alder, hazel, crab apple and holly. Once the hedge is established you can introduce climbers such as dog rose, honeysuckle and ivy all of which will increase the value to wildlife of your hedge
Plant your hedge by creating two staggered lines with plants spaced 30 to 45 cm (12”-18”) apart with the second row about 45cm (18”) from the first.
New hedges are best planted during autumn and winter (October – February). Avoid periods when the ground is frozen or water-logged. Dig over the area for planting, one spade blade deep and remove any grass or weeds. Bare rooted trees and shrubs (whips) will be cheaper than pot grown and are better for establishing a hedge. Most hedgerow trees or shrubs do not require any compost unless your soil is sandy or heavy clay.
You will need to weed around the base of your new plants for the first couple of years and water in dry periods during the growing season.The hedge can be lightly trimmed in the autumn every other year but remember to leave some of the hedge uncut to provide plenty of berries for winter and avoid cutting your hedge during the nesting season of birds (March to late July).
To provide more homes for wildlife; leave the grass long leading up to the hedge and leave leaf piles and log piles at its base to provide a variety of habitats for invertebrates and small mammals. Flowers such as snowdrops, primroses, red campions, dog roses, honeysuckles, foxgloves and violets can be planted at the base of your hedge – these will encourage insects to visit. Foxgloves are especially attractive to bees and honeysuckle will attract moths at night.