Hedgerows From Romans to Habitat


This is a revised and updated post which was originally published on June 2, 2010.


Although not as significant in the US as in the UK, hedgerows nonetheless offer a valuable design opportunity for wildlife habitat. In the simplest terms, a hedgerow is a row of wild trees and shrubs, packed closely together. In the UK they have a very long and interesting history, dating back thousands of years. They were a mixed blessing, good for wildlife, but very bad for peasant farmers. Historically, hedgerows were the remnants of woodlands cleared to make way for agricultural fields. With the passing of the Enclosure Acts of the 18th and 19th centuries, hedgerows were created in great numbers throughout much of the UK as a fencing boundary. Prior to this farming was done in open, common fields. The result of the Enclosure Acts was that peasant farmers, or those who failed to prove…

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Habitat Elements:: Dead Wood

While perhaps not the most exciting topic of wildlife design, dead wood is a very important one. From snag to downed logs, a huge variety of wildlife make many uses of wood. Over 85 species of birds in North America find ways to use snags including Wrens, Northern Flicker, Nuthatches, Screech Owl and even the Turkey Vulture. On the ground, downed logs are of use to a variety of smaller mammals such as moles, chipmunks and even river otter. Many amphibians and reptiles also depend on downed logs including salamanders, skinks, snakes, turtles and frogs. The wide variety of uses from all of the different wildlife species include activities such as nesting, roosting, foraging, perching and mating and territorial displays. Primary excavators such as woodpeckers and sapsuckers create new cavities out of hardwood, but many won’t use the same cavity for more than…

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Stone Walls for Wildlife

Retaining walls are a fact of life for many landscapes, even those with only a slight slope. The majority of walls however, are constructed as a flat surface, stones bound together with mortar which don’t serve any benefit to wildlife. Stone walls however, can be quite beneficial for wildlife if designed and constructed correctly. Even if a retaining wall isn’t needed, rock shelters could be constructed in a similar manner. A rock wall, with crevices between the rocks add additional places for plants to grow and places for a variety of wildlife to take refuge in from the weather, predators, and further provide somewhere to raise young. Ground nesting bees could find space between the rocks to build their nests, cavities can be planned inside for mammals to hide or even hibernate, and small crevices can be an ideal shelter for reptiles and on lower, damper levels, amphibians. Other wildlife…

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