A deadwood hedge in the garden is an ecological jewel, because it offers a home for a large number of animals. With the greening of the hedge, there are also numerous design options.

Characteristics of deadwood hedges

The term deadwood hedge was coined by the landscape gardener Hermann Benjes in the 1980s. He recognized the ecological value of deadwood and how it could be used sustainably as a design element in the garden. He also coined this concept, which is why deadwood hedges are also known under the name “Benjeshecke”.

For Benjes, this hedge was also an opportunity to make good use of the sawn timber in the garden. In larger gardens in particular, it was often not possible to compost the prunings. Instead of having to dispose of it at great expense, this type of hedge was also a cheap alternative to other hedges, since the raw material is constantly being produced in the garden.

structure of the hedge

If you want to create a deadwood hedge, not much material is necessary. All you need is several stakes for stabilization and of course some deadwood. It is an advantage if you can ensure that you are constantly getting new deadwood, for example from cuttings of trees or bushes. Depending on the length of the hedge, the material requirement can be very high.

Instructions for assembly

  • Drive in wooden pegs 50 cm apart
  • Drive in wooden pegs every 70 cm
  • pile up deadwood
  • Prune heavily branched deadwood
  • Press the stacked wood lightly in between

A width of 50 cm is sufficient for narrow deadwood hedges. Larger hedges can be up to a meter wide. With such dimensions, plan for appropriately stable pegs. The wooden stakes should always be anchored at least 30 to 50 cm deep in the ground.

maintenance of the hedge

Don’t pile the deadwood straight up to the maximum height of the pegs, but leave some room at the top. Basically, the deadwood hedge is very easy to care for, because you only have to keep refilling it with deadwood. Depending on the weather, the hedge can collapse by half within a year or two. In order to maintain the height, you therefore constantly need material to fill in the hedge.

Otherwise there is no further work for the Benjeshecke. If you green the hedge or wild trees settle over the years, these plants need regular pruning. The advantage is that the pruning can go straight back onto the Benjeshecke.

Note: You should replace the wooden pegs every few years. If you’re careful when erecting it, you can hammer in new stakes right next to the old ones without affecting the hedge’s stability.

Ecological benefit

If you create a deadwood hedge, you create a new habitat for many animals. This includes birds, insects and many other animals. Due to the trend towards tidy gardens, which dominated for many years, those animals that felt more at home in disorder had a hard time. However, the Benjes hedge is a neat mess that creates living space.

The following animals, among others, benefit from the deadwood hedge:

  • Amsel (Turdus merula)
  • lizards
  • shell snails
  • Frog (Erinaceus)
  • Rotkehlchen (Erithacus rubecula)
  • Dormouse (Glis glis)
  • Wildbienen
  • Zaunkönig (Troglodytes troglodytes)

In order for the deadwood hedge to be really attractive for beneficial insects, the structure is important. In the instructions, make sure that the deadwood is not too compacted. Not only useful animals can settle there, but also snails, which is the case above all with deadwood that is too compacted.

Tip: Ideally, a Benjes hedge is built up over a longer period of time. As a result, the hedge is not compressed too much and gradually offers different animals a new habitat.

Plant deadwood hedge

A hedge made of dead wood means that nature takes over the greening. Due to the increasing construction, wild animals need more and more time to find such oases. So if you don’t want to wait for natural growth, you can start greening the hedge yourself.

Use wild trees for greening. Annual plants such as nasturtium (Tropaeolum) or sweet peas (Vicia) are also possible. When planting, however, always distinguish which part is to be covered with greenery. In the ground area, perennial herbaceous plants are more suitable, while higher levels of the hedge are best covered with shrubs.

The following herbaceous plants are suitable:

  • Akelei (Aquilegia)
  • Nesselblättrige Glockenblume (Campanula trachelium)
  • Vergissmeinnicht (Myosotis)
  • Goat’s Beard (Aruncus dioicus)
  • Waldmeister (Galium odoratum)
  • Wurmfarn (Dryopteris filix-mas)
Note: Be aware when creating a hedge of deadwood that the foot is often shady and damp. This limits the options for greening the hedge.

Shrubs for greening the Benjeshecke:

  • Amelanchier pear
  • Hasel (Corylus)
  • Honeysuckle (Lonicera)
  • Elder (Sambucus)
  • Kornelkirsche (Cornus mas)
  • Pfaffenhütchen (Euonymus europaeus)
  • Sanddorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)
  • Schlehe (Prunus spinosa)
  • Weißdorn (Crategus)

The advantage of using wild bushes is that not only birds and other animals benefit from them, many wild fruits can also be processed in the kitchen. The deadwood hedge is also the ideal foundation for a wild shrub hedge. The dead wood often only forms a privacy screen in the first few years , until the wild shrubs have grown sufficiently dense. The hedge then no longer needs to be piled up.

The ideal time for greening the hedge is either early spring or late autumn. You can plant plants directly on the hedge or you can scatter seeds. The sowing is particularly suitable for herbaceous plants. Some wild shrubs such as elderberry, hazelnut or spindle tree can also be propagated well by sowing.

frequently asked Questions

In principle, you can stack any wood on the deadwood hedge. However, only use pruning trees and shrubs for the hedge. Material such as rotten pegs or other wood is not suitable for the hedge.

Yes, climbing plants such as wild clematis species or ivy are possible as greenery. The disadvantage, however, is that these climbing plants often grow on the ground and quickly conquer large areas in the garden.

Yes, you can also use deadwood hedges as an enclosure for animals. Please note that the hedge consists exclusively of wood that is not poisonous to animals. The hedge must be high enough so that it does not become an escape aid for the animals. For large horses, the hedge must have a height of 165 cm and this height must be maintained by regular piling up.

Falling leaves can be filled in as an intermediate layer. However, this often needs to be secured additionally by simply sticking branches in vertically to keep the foliage from falling out.

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