Crow’s Nest: Instant hedgerow

October 12, 2017

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

Yesterday we created a new hedgerow from scratch along Harmonyville Road, on the only remaining stretch that didn’t already have one. The primary purpose is to keep people from driving into the field; we had been considering various other solutions such as a fence or boulders but decided this was the most economical and effective, and keeps with the character of the existing landscape.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

Other benefits of this hedgerow are that it will prevent snow from blowing across this section of road as it always has in the past. And the native plants in it offer habitat for beneficial insects that can help the farmer manage insect pests in the crops.

Rather than caging each individual plant to protect them from deer we used a technique that establishes “habitat islands.” We’ve installed these at Crow’s Nest before—but not in places you’re likely to see them from the trails. They are also in use in places as diverse as Longwood Gardens and the Penn State Experimental Forest.

The plantings are fenced as a group but not with the typical eight foot-tall deer fence. Although deer could jump over the four foot fence, they aren’t likely to jump into such a narrow enclosed space. Our habitat islands can be as long as we want to make them, but they are only four feet deep. Also, the fence doesn’t go quite down to the ground, allowing other creatures to pass through unimpeded. With a traditional deer fence some deer would wriggle under, but again, we don’t think they’ll wriggle under to get into such a small enclosed area.

I’d like to acknowledge what excellent staff we have that knocked out this project. Assistant Manager Aubrey Smith ordered the fence and plants and planned the plantings, and Erin Smith joined in building the fence and planting the trees and shrubs. We thought it was going to rain yesterday and we thought we’d just try out putting a few posts in before it started—but we got the whole project finished!

Photo: Daniel Barringer