A whisper from the woods

Ask me (almost) anything, November 2021

Nov 17, 2021

Welcome to week three of our new blog feature: Whispers from the Woods.

On the third week of each month, we will host an educational blog called, Ask Me (Almost) Anything by Mark Allaway.
This is your chance to get your tree (and shrub and bush) questions answered. Please, enjoy. Keep planting!

“Can I dedicate and report my bushes and shrubs?”
Yes, you can!

Our global tree-planting community asked whether they could include their bushes and shrubs when reporting their trees.
We consulted our Australian regional coordinator, Mark Allaway. Holding a master’s in landscape architecture, Mark has agreed to be our official GTI consultant.

You can read more about Mark, his education, and his experience here.

What are hedges, bushes, and shrubs?

Without getting technical, the words brush and shrub are interchangeable. They are both low usually multi-stemmed woody plants. They may be erect although they might sprawl. Usually, they are less than 13 feet in height; anything taller than that is (but not always) considered a tree.

Hedges are just a tightly planted cluster of tall shrubs or bushes.

Why are hedges, bushes, and shrubs important?

In short, hedges, bushes and shrubs have the same impact on the environment as trees.

Mark advised. “They are small trees…. …. because of the density of planting, they may look less significant. We have hedges here in Australia planted on fence lines and boundaries to define an edge of the property – they function as windbreaks to homes and paddocks for protection of stock such as sheep and goats. Also, they can be grazed for feed in dry or winter conditions.”

Mark explains that hedges are merely large numbers of trees or large shrubs planted closely together (at about 30cm spacings) thereby limiting the size of each individual plant yet making a significant wall effect. For example, a Hawthorn hedge (which they have in Australia) will eventually grow to 4-5 metres tall and 3-5 metres deep even though each individual plant in the hedge may not exceed a stem diameter of 10-12 cm (3-4 inches). If the Hawthorn were planted as a single specimen, it could achieve the same height by itself but would be five metres in diameter and have a stem of up to 15-20cm (6-8 inches). Also, the hedge could survive for decades. This is just what is required for a contribution to soils, organic matter, and carbon sequestration.

In fact, a hedge performs many other essential functions. For example, they protect small birds, rodents and other creatures who would otherwise be exposed to prey from larger birds and foxes. They also protect small herbs and grasses that would otherwise be grazed out. The blossoms are important for bees as a pollen source.

Mark mentions that he has seen a TV program where Prince Charles (from the UK) sponsors farmers in the south of England to restore old hedges and teach new landowners how to establish them by traditional methods – they push the wood cuttings into the soil, and they strike roots naturally. Highly effective, cheap, and quick – again, just what the planet needs right now!

Mark’s advice for planting, is longevity. The key to success is to do things that last as long as possible so as to provide long lasting benefit.

Thank you for your advice, Mark!

Share your photos and stories here.

Do you have a question for Mark?
Post your question in our comment section below.

We will share your question and his answer with our tree-planting family!


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