Hedge or Fence – Which is Better? Part 1

Now is the time to plan and plant your new hedge. This year, though, there is an additional consideration brought about by the storms in November 2013 that led to the destruction of thousands of garden fences across the country. This year, we should also ask the question: why stare at a fence when you could enjoy a hedge?

 Of course there is nothing new about winds, gale force or otherwise, but plants (unlike fencing panels) have had millions of years to adapt to one of nature’s most destructive forces. These adaptations work to our advantage even when we give nature a little helping hand and encourage plants to grow in forms and shapes that suit our practical requirements and aesthetic tastes.
And nothing demonstrates that more than the hedge. We may have invented the hedge simply to delineate boundaries and to keep livestock in and wildlife out, but the hedge now offers so much more but today is in direct competition with that far more recent invention – the factory-made fence.
But is a fence really better than the natural alternative of planting a hedge?
What can hedging offer besides its built-in ability to withstand nature at its most ferocious?
Let’s see…
Installation
Which is easier: erecting a fence from scratch or planting a new hedge?
The truthful answer is ‘it depends’ – but the idea that a fence is the easier option is simply untrue as anyone who has ever tried to put in a run of metposts will testify.
And while planting a hedge can be happily done on your own or with others, it’s a brave person who tries to put up a fence without help.
Both jobs require some effort but if your main consideration is minimising that effort, hedging is almost certainly the better option – you don’t have to bang in a hedge with a sledge hammer!
Maintenance
Yes, a hedge will need clipping every year, but the work is not arduous and can be spread out over a few weeks if you wish. And many find it rather enjoyable – something rarely said about slapping on another coat of creosote.
Wildlife
Fences are sterile – they offer nothing of interest to wildlife and so wildlife stays away. Hedges, however, can attract birds, bees, butterflies and all manner of fauna in their undergrowth. If you want your garden to live, plant a hedge.
Durability
No need to repeat myself – when push comes to shove, it’s much easier to push down a fence than to shove a hedge out of the way.
Aesthetic Appeal
Only a few fences, a tiny percentage, could, in any way, be called ‘pretty’ and, furthermore, there are pretty fences and there are cheap fences, but there are no cheap, pretty fences. If they did have appeal, then gardeners would not spend so much time and effort trying to hide them. Hedges, on the other hand, are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also offer great variety.
The next issue is security, which we will discuss in our next blog…