To tackle the climate crisis and reduce pollution, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in the UK urges gardeners and homeowners to take down their fences and plant hedges instead.
The charity partnered with scientists to explore what types of green infrastructure could be implemented, especially in urban areas. According to their research, switching out fences for hedges to mark property boundaries and gardens is a relatively easy way to reduce pollution, improve air quality, slow the flow of rainwater to help with flood management, provide shelter for wildlife, support pollinators, and help regulate temperature.
Dr. Tijana Blanusa, the RHS’s principal horticultural scientist, says that the RHS is now looking into the benefits of mixed hedging, and is also exploring the properties of different kinds of hedges to determine exactly how hedges provide important ecosystem services.
“The humble hedge is often the hero feature in any garden,” says Blanusa. “Acting as a natural screen, they not only provide important environmental services but are relatively cheap, long-lasting, and have only a small ground footprint.”
For the local climate, current research highlights beech, privet, and holly plants to have the best overall effects, but the RHS will continue investigating different species and the benefits they might offer.
Traditionally, only one kind of hedge is planted in a garden or urban area, which could be for aesthetic purposes, however, scientists believe that limiting biodiversity could make the plants more vulnerable to diseases. This is why Blanusa and the team will be studying the best combinations of hedges for urban areas.
Though her research is specific to the UK, hopefully, the RHS’s efforts will inspire others around the world to trade their fences for suitable, environmentally supportive hedges as well.