The classics for bird protection and their nutrition are fruit trees. But because these are too big for many gardens, many bird lovers resort to hedge plants. A lot can also be done with these for the feathered residents. Depending on the type and variety of plants, they provide shelter, cover, food and nesting sites. A mixture of early flowering and seasonally staggered fruiting species is ideal for birds. A distinction is made between cut hedges and free-growing borders. Read what there is to know about bird protection hedges in the following text.


  • Mostly free-growing fruit-bearing hedges
  • Have a special meaning for native birds
  • They feed on the fruit and/or build their nests in the protection of the bird protection hedges
  • Mostly native hedge plants, often called bird bushes
  • Native wild shrubs
  • Largely integrated into the ecosystem
  • Blossoms, buds and fruits serve as a source of food for birds
  • numerous insects populate the flowering hedges
    • these in turn are eaten by birds
  • Bird protection hedges offer numerous nesting opportunities
  • Thorn hedges in particular offer protection for birds, especially from cats

Typical bird protection hedges

Today you can see foreign ornamental trees or conifers in numerous gardens, which are of little or no ecological use for the local wildlife. The only important thing for the garden owner is that he quickly has an opaque wall. Quite apart from the fact that fast-growing plants have to be cut at least once a year throughout their lives, they usually offer no food and only a few bird species have nesting opportunities. There is another way. Native wild shrubs or trees are useful for animal life, not only for birds, but also for insects and mammals.

Pure deciduous trees

The pure deciduous trees include the field maple, the hornbeam and the common beech. Although these trees offer little food for birds, they do provide good hiding and nesting opportunities. They can also be kept in good shape with an annual pruning. The advantage of deciduous trees is that they sprout again from the old wood even after severe pruning.

  • Field maple (Acer campestre) – fast-growing, deciduous multi-stemmed shrub, rare tree with good branching
    • inconspicuous yellow-green flowers from May to June
    • winged split fruits, great autumn colouring
    • very cut-resistant and frost-resistant
  • Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) – medium-sized deciduous tree or shrub,
    • can be used as a bird protection hedge
    • inconspicuous flowers in April and May, bright yellow autumn colors, fruits – small nuts
    • Durable at a height of 2 m, tolerates pruning well, allow for a width of 1 m
    • keeps its leaves quite long in autumn/winter
  • European Beech (Fagus sylvatica) – medium sized deciduous tree or shrub
    • can be used as a bird protection hedge
    • green leaves, not red, greenish flowers from April to May, beechnuts as fruits
    • beautiful autumn colors, keeps the foliage for a long time, longer than hornbeam, often until new shoots appear
    • tolerates pruning well, plan for a width of 1 m
  • ‘Evergreen’ privet (Ligustrum vulgare ‘Atrovirens) – undemanding deciduous shrub that keeps its foliage long into winter, often until new growth occurs
    • very keen to grow
    • yellowish-white panicles of flowers in June/July
    • black, pea-sized fruits, be careful, they are poisonous
    • if cut annually, hardly any flowers or fruits
    • cut at least twice a year


Coniferous trees suitable for a hedge include yew, common juniper and conifers and thuja species, but other than yew and juniper there are no native trees. The advantage here is that these plants are evergreen, so they offer privacy for the garden and house even in winter and hiding places and protection for birds and animals. The yew will sprout again even after a larger cut, but the juniper does not. It needs to be trimmed regularly. It should be noted that the yew is poisonous.

  • Yew (Taxus) – evergreen shrubs or small to medium sized trees
    • Depending on the variety, different green needles, inconspicuous flowers, red fruits in autumn
    • all parts of the plant are poisonous
    • tolerates pruning well, tolerates radical pruning and reliably drives out again
    • grows very slowly
  • Juniper (Juniperus) – many species and varieties
    • evergreen trees and shrubs of different shapes and colors
    • inconspicuous flowers, berry-shaped cones that take two years to mature (juniper berries)
    • well tolerated by cuts

Bird protection hedges with flowers or fruits

Most trees belong to this group. There is a large selection of plants. These are of different heights and widths and must be selected to match each other. If the hedge can grow freely without pruning, other plants are often suitable than when pruning must limit the size. Again, everything has to fit together.

  • Common barberry (Berberis vulgaris) – also called sour thorn – yellow flowers in May, red berries, edible but sour, deciduous shrub, 1 to 3 m tall, thorns offer protection
  • Copper pear (Amalanchier lamackii) – white flowers in April, blue-black fruits, orange-yellow autumn colour, deciduous shrub or small tree with several trunks, up to 10 m tall, tasty fruits
  • Firethorn (Pyracantha) – white flowers in May and June, yellow, orange or red berries, evergreen shrub or small tree 4 to 6 m tall, thorns to protect birds, fruit not edible for humans
  • Lilac (Syringa) – depending on the variety, dark violet, violet-red, yellow, white, pink flowers from May to June, deciduous shrub or small tree, 2 to 6 m high and about 3 to 5 m wide, inconspicuous capsule fruits with seeds, bee pasture
  • Hazelnut or common hazel (Corylus avallana) – also called nut bush, catkins in February and March, fruits after about 10 years, many animals like the nuts, deciduous bush, up to 5 m tall
  • Honeysuckle (Lonicera xylosteum) – white-yellow flowers from May, dark red fruits, undemanding deciduous shrub, 2 to 3 m high and 1 to 2 m wide, can be kept as a hedge at 1 m, berries inedible for humans
  • Dog rose (Rosa canina) – also called dog rose, light pink, rarely white or strong pink flowers in June, many rosehips, once flowering, deciduous, upright, long arching overhanging branches and twigs, 2 to 3 m tall and slightly wider than high
  • Pike rose (Rosa glaucha) – pink flowers in June and July, bluish foliage, red rose hips, vigorous growth, deciduous shrub, up to 2.5 m tall, upright, slender shoots, many thorns, rose hips can be used raw or cooked
  • Red elder (Sambucus racemosa) – white to cream-colored small flowers from April, red berry clusters, process like black elderberries, they are inedible raw, large deciduous shrub, 3 to 5 m high and 2 to 4 m wide
  • Black elder (Sambucus nigra) – white flowers (panicles) in May and June, black berries, fast-growing, shrub or small tree up to 10 m high, attracts many insects, berries are poisonous raw, very tasty when cooked, birds like it too
  • Cornus (Cornus mas) – yellow flowers in February and March, red fruits, large deciduous shrub or tree with several stems, 4 to 6 m tall, 2.50 to 3.50 wide, sometimes even taller, berries are edible, good for jam or jelly
  • Red hedge barberry (Berberis thunbergii) – yellow flowers in May, deciduous and very densely growing hedge plant, dark red leaves, 1 to 2 m high, 40 to 1.30 m wide, robust hedge, easy to keep in shape, strong spines, protection for birds
  • Love pearl bush – (Callicarpa bodinieri) – also called beauty fruit, inconspicuous light purple flowers from July, showy violet berry-like drupes, deciduous, medium-tall shrub, 2 to 3 m tall, up to 2 m wide, beautiful autumn colors, berries stay on for a long time
  • Common privet (Ligustrum vulgare ‘Atrovirens’) – evergreen, white panicles of flowers from May, black berries, 2 to 4 m high, 2 to 3 m wide, strong growth, easy to cut into shape, the shrub can lose its foliage with strong temperature fluctuations
  • Spindle tree (Eunymus europaeus) – greenish-yellow to greenish-white flowers from May, coral-red fruit with a crimson coat, deciduous shrub, 2 to 4 m tall and up to 3 m wide, great autumn colours, poisonous plant, all parts are poisonous, but especially the seeds
  • Burnet rose (Rosa spinosissima) – white flowers from May to June, black to purplish-black hips, shrub, 30 to 180 cm high, tough spines, many root runners, forms dense colonies, impenetrable because of the spines, bee pasture
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata ‘Paul’s Scarlet’) – crimson, double flowers from May, shrub up to 6 m high, can also be grown as a tree, broadly conical habit, quite large thorns, very tolerant of pruning, unfortunately only a few develop, often not at all no fruit
  • Sea buckthorn (Hippphae rhamnoides) – small yellowish flowers from March to May, oval orange-red to yellow fruits from August to December, deciduous shrub, 1 to 6 m high, 1.50 to 2.50 m wide, fruits very rich in vitamins, female plants need a pollinator
  • False quince (Chaenomelis japonica) – orange to brick-red flowers, yellow fruits, sparse shrub with thorns, spreading branches, 0.6 to 2 m high, fruits are not edible raw, you can make juice, but the fruits have to be cooked
  • Sloe (Prunus spinosa) – white flowers from March, blue-black mostly spherical drupes, deciduous shrub with many thorns or small tree with several trunks, 3 to 6 m tall, flesh is sour and tart, but becomes tastier after the first frost
  • Snowball (Viburnum opulus) – white flowers from May to June, fragrant, red berries, deciduous, upright, densely branched shrub, 1.5 to 6 m tall, up to 2.50 m wide, orange-red autumn colour, birds like it berries very much
  • Gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa) – wild form of the gooseberry, greenish to reddish flowers from April to May, small green fruits, smaller than those of cultivated gooseberries, ripening July to August, deciduous shrub with thorns, 60 to 150 cm high
  • Bird cherry (Prunos padus) – white flowers in clusters from April to June, strong honey-like smell, pea-sized wrinkled drupe, first red, later black, tree up to 15 m high or shrub up to 10 m high, bitter flesh, poisonous core
  • Sal Willow (Salix caprea) – Pussy willow, between March and April, capsule fruits ripen from May to June, deciduous fast-growing shrub or small tree, 3 to 10 m tall, 3 to 4 m wide, ideal for insects and birds that feed off feed them

  • Rowan tree (Sorbus aucuparia) – also known as mountain ash, white umbels of flowers in May to June, decorative red berries, deciduous, mostly multi-stemmed small tree, up to 10 m tall, 4 to 6 m wide, beautiful autumn colours
  • Single Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) – white flowers from May, red berries, fruit ripening in September, strong thorns to protect birds, deciduous shrub or small tree, 2 to 6 m tall, sometimes taller, with a dense crown, pasture for bees
  • Wild apple / crab apple (Malus sylvestris) – pink-white flowers from April to May, yellow-green spherical fruits with red cheeks, miniature apples, woody, deciduous tree up to 10 m high, but mostly it grows as a shrub, 3 to 5 m high, fast-growing
  • Wild pear (Pyrus pyraster) – white flowers from April to May, rather rounded green or brown-yellow pseudofruit, woody, ripens in September/October, deciduous tree 8 to 10 m tall, also grows as a medium-sized shrub from 2 to 4 m tall,

Create a bird protection hedge

When creating a bird protection hedge, it is of course important which plants are to be used. It is best to use local plants. Hedges that are trimmed regularly don’t take up as much space, but allow for a meter. These plants are planted straight in rows, precisely aligned. The “wild” bird protection hedge made of different shrubs should not be so precise. Better it is created in several stages.

Note: A mixed hedge is favorable. Each wild shrub has a different popularity among animal boarders, so as many different types of shrub as possible should be selected. It is important that the shrubs are not thrown together haphazardly. It is best to choose the shrubs according to the respective site conditions, so you know that they will do well. The different vigor of the individual species, as well as the different flowering and fruiting phases, must also be taken into account.
  • best time to moor between October and March
  • When planting, take into account the later width of the hedge
  • Maintain distance from neighbors
  • Some plants are considered key plants – hornbeam, rowan tree and bird cherry
  • Elderberry, hawthorn and service pear are suitable in the middle area
  • Hazel, cornus, snowberries and barberries are good for gap planting
  • Sloes and the various wild roses with their thorns are also suitable for interim plantings
  • plant taller shrubs to the rear and smaller ones to the front
  • Do not shade light-requiring species too much
  • Plant shrubs as deep as they were in their containers.
  • look out for healthy roots
  • Cut away injured or broken roots, otherwise the root should remain intact.
  • In the case of shrubs in the root ball, open this in the planting hole and fold it back. It can stay there because it will rot.
Tip: A width of 3 meters is ideal for a bird protection hedge. There is space to plant three rows of different trees. If possible, these hedges should not be trimmed, or only to maintain their shape and to limit their growth or to thin them out.

plant spacing

The planting distances depend on the expected size of the plants.

  • Plant spacing approx. 1 m if planted in a row
  • When planting several rows in a row, always plant a little crazy
  • Plant broad-growing shrubs 1.5 m apart
  • Smaller correspondingly smaller, about 70 cm
  • Dig a planting hole twice as large as the root ball
  • It is good to add compost to the planting hole when planting
  • Fill in the soil and gently press or tread on it
  • Pour enough
  • Casting rings around the trunks are good, so the water gets to where it is wanted.

To cut

A naturally growing bird protection hedge without topiary measures looks the most natural and offers the most ideal conditions for the birds. It doesn’t always work without a cut. On roadsides, for example, it is a legal requirement to keep hedges in shape. Many garden owners also prefer a neatly shaped to a wild one. No matter how you manage it, hedges must not be cut at all times.

  • If the hedge has become too high and wide over the years, it can be trimmed
  • After a short time it grows back together into a dense bush.
  • According to Section 39 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act, it is forbidden to cut hedges between March 1st and September 30th.
  • During this time the birds breed and like to do so in hedges
  • Gentle shape and grooming cuts are permitted.
  • Cut bird protection hedges in winter, then there is no danger for birds and their offspring
  • The best time is towards the end of winter, when severe frosts are no longer to be expected.
  • Exceptions – only cut all spring bloomers after they have bloomed

Frequently Asked Questions

Does it make sense to mix a wild fruit hedge with evergreen hedge plants?
Useful or not, it is possible. The hedge can be loosened up in this way. For example, various types and varieties of Ilex and privet are suitable.

Can a bird protection hedge be mulched or is there a better way to prevent weeds?
Bark mulch is possible, but only 2 cm thick, otherwise too much nitrogen is extracted and the plants need it. A mulch layer of grass clippings would make more sense. Underplanting also works, preferably with native ground covers, such as Epimedum rubrum, elfin flower or Geranium macrorrhizum Spessart.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *