Have you ever heard of the so-called deadwood hedge? Maybe not, but you have certainly seen them before. The type of fence consisting of cut twigs and branches is a popular alternative to the living hedge and so brings some advantages. But if you now imagine a boring and dull accumulation of wood, you are wrong. Because in fact it is a system in which numerous animals and insects feel at home. So, if you want a garden that is also a real paradise for other creatures, you can achieve this wonderfully with the Benjes hedge, as the deadwood hedge is also called. We summarize the most important things you should know if you want to create a Benjes hedge – what permits are required for the natural fence made of branches, how to build the deadwood hedge and can it actually be planted to make it look more alive? We explain!
Table of contents
Creating a Benjes hedge – The advantages
Apart from the fact that the Benjes hedge serves you as a fence, it also brings other advantages. Prunings, which you previously had to dispose of in a special way, can be wonderfully recycled by creating the Benjes hedge in the small garden (in the large garden, the effort might be too great or the material would not be sufficient). Thus, the Benjes hedge is very useful as a privacy screen, but also very practical for raised beds , to separate the vegetable beds and even to store compost.
When you create a Benjes hedge, you also create an ecosystem as well as a practical source of nutrients, because while the materials used decompose naturally, you also add valuable nutrients to the soil. Properties located on busy roads will also get a natural filter that will protect from the exhaust fumes, but also from the noise . And you get all this at low cost and without much maintenance!
Building a Benjes hedge – what you should know
Do you need a building permit if you want to build a Benjes hedge?
You may need a permit to build a Benjes hedge. Depending on how large you want your hedge to be, you may also need to maintain a certain distance from your neighbor. To be on the safe side, check in advance with the relevant authority. Usually you can already be told by phone if and in which cases you need a building permit for the Benjes hedge.
What height should be the Benjes hedge, in principle, you can decide for yourself – depending on what it will serve you and how much space you have available. If you want to create a Benjes hedge and determine the width and height, you can follow the usual dimensions that we mention below.
Build your own deadwood fence – how to do it.
The best time to build a fence from dead wood in the garden , is the cold season, that is, the period between October and March. But how to build a Benjes hedge? You can buy dead wood or collect it in your garden. To build the hedge, you also need stakes or posts, which are fixed in the ground in two rows at any distance from each other (depending on how wide you want the hedge to be). After that, you just need to fill the Benjes hedge.
But what goes into the Benjes hedge? Branches and twigs can be combined with other garden waste. Food scraps are taboo when you create a Benjes hedge, as they could attract unwanted animals like rats. For example, lawn clippings are also popular as filler material, turning the Benjes hedge into a compost pile. The construction of a Benjes hedge with instructions summarized:
Benjes hedge – construction instructions:
- Drive the stakes for the Benjes hedge into the ground at equal intervals and in two rows and parallel to each other. Make sure they are about the same height. You can adjust them at the end with a saw if necessary. An example of good measurements:
– Posts for Benjes hedge between 50 and 75 cm to each other.
– height from 1 to 1.5 meters
– Width of 50 cm
- Between the rows of posts now loosely layer filler material. And what can go in when you create a Benjes hedge? Garden waste such as branches and twigs of different thicknesses, tree and shrub cuttings, faded plants such as grasses, perennials or lawn cuttings are suitable (avoid conifers, as they result in acidic soil). Then compact the materials by stepping on them, thereby pushing them down.
Caution: once the deadwood hedge is ready, do not step on it, otherwise you may injure animals living in it.
- You can now shape the hedge by trimming protruding twigs and branches with pruning shears. You can weave in bendy branches, while also incorporating the stakes to secure the Benjes hedge and make it even more stable.
Properly maintain the deadwood hedge
- Top up with fresh greenery on a regular basis. You can use soil and leaves to fill in gaps and guarantee a stable hedge.
- Cut back or completely remove any shrubs that become undesirably established.
- Replace posts that become rotten over time.
- Raspberry and blackberry vines can be wrapped around the posts for added stability.
You can plant the deadwood hedge to achieve the formation of the mentioned ecosystem faster (this can otherwise take up to 100 years). If you would like to plant the benje hedge and green it naturally in this way, you can choose the following plants for your hedge of branches:
- Rock pears
- Capuchin cress
- Cornelian cherries
- Black elderberry
- Fence bindweed
The Benjes hedge and its disadvantages
There are a few disadvantages you should consider if you want to plant a Benjes hedge. Even if you create only a small Benjes hedge, you can expect that it will take at least 50 years for the deadwood hedge to resemble a real, living hedge. Therefore, if you are eager to quickly obtain a green hedge, it is better to reach for the classic hedge plants .
In addition, many of the woody plants used are persistent and resprout. These then dominate over other plants in and on the Benjeshecken, so that probably not the desired biodiversity can arise. Other rather undesirable plants such as nettles also feel very comfortable in this environment and can dominate.