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Home > Master Publication List > Western Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) Farm Internship Curriculum and Handbook > Hedgerows

Western Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education
(SARE) Farm Internship Curriculum and Handbook

Tom and Maud Powell and Michael Moss, Sustainable Farmers, Jackson County, OR.
Technical advisor: Tim Franklin, Jacksonville, OR.
Curriculum advisor: Peter O'Connell, Jacksonville, OR.
Web advisor: National Center for Appropriate Technology, Butte, MT.

Published 2007
Updated 2010


A hedgerow is a densely planted pattern of trees or shrubs used to create a protective barrier around a field of crops.

Learning Objectives
The learner will:

  • Identify multiple purposes for hedgerows on the farm
  • Recognize factors influencing hedgerow design
  • Learn the basics of plant selection, planting, and caring for hedgerows.


Functions of Hedgerows

  • Physical barrier - to humans or livestock
  • Visual barrier - aesthetically pleasing
  • Wind barrier - block wind, thus decreasing evapotranspiration in fields
  • Create shade - creates niches in field for shade tolerant plants; stops evaporation of water from soil
  • Temperature regulation - vegetation tends to moderate climate extremes
  • Create habitat - habitat for pollinating insects, birds and small critters
  • Create food source - fruits and nuts
  • Create usable material - fuel wood, fencing material, weaving material, posts
  • Prevent erosion - root mass holds soil and blocks runoff


Factors influencing layout and species selection of hedgerows

  • Environmental Factors
    • Climate - (average high and low temperatures, precipitation)
    • Soil type - (composition and fertility)
    • Prevailing wind direction
    • Aspect -(e.g. north facing slope for fruit trees to avoid early bloom)
  • Site Factors
    • Location of roads, fields, buildings, waterways, etc.
  • Goals of Designer
    • What purpose(s) will the hedgerow achieve?
  • Opportunities
    • Create edge - An edge exists where two systems meet and overlap. (i.e. where a forest meets a meadow.) Maximum biological activity takes place along edges. The designer emphasizes this effect by planting a curving hedge because a curving line has more linear distance between to fixed points than a straight line.
    • Pathways - The paths between hedgerows can be either clean cultivated, meaning bare-earth with vegetation either hoed or tilled; or paths can have vegetative cover which is managed to fix nutrients, choke weeds, hold soil, and provide mulching material. (i.e. buckwheat, clover, fescue combination.)
    • Special plants - Certain nitrogen-fixing shrubs can be planted amongst fruit and nut trees to provide nitrogen to the trees. (i.e. ceanothus, pea shrubs, eleagnus)


Planting Stock

  • If from a nursery, plants should be grown in a similar climate. Plants can come from the nursery in a variety of forms: potted, balled and burlap, and bare root (most common)
  • Home sourced plants can be grown from seed or cuttings and are especially good because they come from the same climate and ecosystem in which they will live.



  • Choose a time to plant that is appropriate for species and region
  • Scalp surrounding area clean of any competing vegetation
  • Make a hole large enough not to impinge roots
  • Trim off broken roots
  • Plant to proper depth (avoid creating a basin for the trees to be submerged in if the rainy season is long.
  • Use appropriate soil amendments. Too much can coddle the tree and the roots will remain in the planting hole and not venture out into native soil.
  • Pat soil around roots until firm but not compacted
  • Water in thoroughly


Care and Maintenance

  • Protection
    • Use fencing to protect from deer, beavers, etc.
    • Line the planting hole with poultry netting before planting to protect from gophers, moles, and voles.
    • Paint tree trunks of fruit and nut species with white latex paint diluted 50% with water to protect from sun, cold, and borers
  • Mulching
    • Retains moisture in the soil
    • Smothers weeds
    • Moderates soil temperature
  • Pruning
    • Prune fruit and nut species
    • Follow specific instructions for type of tree
    • Pruning is critical in the first few years
  • Irrigation - if required
  • Annual fertilization
    • Fertilize during period of dormancy
    • Foliar spraying is acceptable in the spring
  • Thinning
    • If hedgerow becomes too crowded, thin out selected trees to create spaces for others



  • How many distinct functions of hedgerows can you identify?
  • What are some care and maintenance needs of hedgerows?




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This page was last updated on: August 25, 2014