Shrubs and hedges

Shrubs and hedges are some of the most important structures in gardens for birds


Dense, prickly branches with lasting foliage offer fantastic protection from predators and numerous nesting sites


Insects and small mammals will live amongst the stems and leaves. 

Tits and finches can be seen flitting along the branches, hunting tiny insects which are essential nestling food. Wrens will find low down, sheltered spots to make their tiny, mossy cave-like nests. Blackbirds and thrushes can be found eating berries throughout the autumn and winter.

Native species are best, but anything works; the more variety, foliage types, longevity and berries the better.  


Larger shrubs and hedges will offer more opportunities for feeding, sheltering from the weather, and hiding from predators and, most importantly, nesting sites.

Different birds like to nest at different heights and aspects.  Wrens low down, thrushes and blackbirds higher up, finches and tits much higher up.  Offering a multi-storey natural hedge is the ultimate in des-res for songbirds!

The bases of hedges are the perfect place to grow nectar-rich woodland flowers like foxgloves, bluebells and anemones: perfect for insects and providing additional protection for wildlife.

Hedges and shrubs should not be cut during nesting season to avoid damage or disturbance to nesting birds, or while there are berries and other fruits available for food.  Although a regular trim once per year, or every other year (depending on the species growing), will help to encourage the thick, dense growth which produce more food and offer greater protection from predators and weather.

Plant a natural hedge
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  • Wild Cherry – Prunus avium

  • Field Maple – Acer campestre

  • Dog Rose – Rosa canina

  • Blackthorn – Prunus spinosa

  • Hornbeam – Carpus betulus


For a full list of trees and shrubs for hedges and for use in borders that are good for birds and wildlife click here


To find out more about hedges visit Hedgelink for a wealth of expert advice.

Find out more about the science of hedges and hedgerow management at: