You’ve just got your borders in good order and you’re left with a pile of green hedge clippings. What should you do with them?
Here are eight ideas for those leafy leftovers:
- Add them to your green waste collection.
- Make your own compost.
- Use them as mulch in your garden.
- Get crafty and make wreaths or bird feeders.
- Make leaf mold – a fantastic fertilizer!
- Make hedgehog houses.
- Add them to your fire or log burner.
- Use them to prevent ice build up.
Naturally your first inclination will be to add them as green waste to your weekly refuse collection and, well, that’s a good start. Many local authorities turn their green waste into compost that you can buy or even take away.
If you feel like you want to make better use of the clippings yourself, having your own compost pile is the first place to start. A healthy compost pile includes a balance of green and brown material, so throw in some bark chips to help with the decomposition process alongside food waste and your hedge trimmings.
But if you have a small garden, or live in a flat, you can’t always use your green clippings for compost. What are other ways to make the most of them?
1) Put them around plants as mulch for winter protection from frost heave and weeds when applied an inch thick over top the roots. A good mulch will support a diverse ecosystem and by choosing hedge trimmings from plants like roses and lavender that are safe to leave on the compost pile for a few weeks, you’ll be adding organic material.
Mulch made from hedge trimmings can also help protect your lawn against drought or waterlogging during dry summer months so long as it’s applied in a thick layer over grass before any rain has fallen on top of them. Your choice of trimming can be critical in the visual aesthetic but if you want to protect your lawns in the long run, a mulch is a great help.
2) Turn them into crafts, such as wreaths or bird feeders. Wreaths can be created for many different occasions and if you have them in mind when trimming your hedges you can be deliberate in getting decent sized pieces of plant. Branches with berries are ideal in this respect.
Many hedges have flowers that are edible and you could use them as decoration on a cake if they’re not too big. Hedges with edible flowers include lavender, thyme and rosemary.
Birds are usually happy to eat green hedge clippings if they’re not too big but you can also make a proper bird feeder which is easy enough for any beginner in crafts with some wire mesh or other material that will hold the food. A simple spin through Pinterest will give you inspiration for this crafty project!
3) Use them to make leaf mold which is a wonderful fertilizer for flowers and vegetables. The process of making leaf mold is simple: simply take a good amount of leaves or other organic yard waste and put them into an old pillowcase. Shake the bag to break up clumps until they are in small pieces then leave it sealed for two weeks in a warm place (the heat will help speed this process).
This is not only helpful but also very inexpensive – you can repeat the process often to build up your supplies, and you can store it for a year or more.
4) Make hedgehog houses. Hedgehogs benefit greatly from lightweight human support when it comes to living in urban areas, and a hedgehog house is something that can really make a difference. Simply put a hedgehog house is a box with a lid that is lined with leaves and similar plant material, that should have a hole in one of the sides big enough for hedgehogs to enter.
Hedgehog houses are best placed along hedges and other areas where they can be seen from all directions, though you may wish choose spots that offer protection during winter months or cool shade on hot days as well.
The Wildlife Trust has a terrific guide to making hedgehog houses.
If you use them to make a hedgehog house, be sure not too put any plants that are hazardous as an animal could eat it and become ill or worse die from eating poisonous parts of these green clippings . Be careful with oleander tree (very toxic), yew trees, and laurel, which are all poisonous to some degree.
5) Use them in your fireplace or stove for winter warmth and ambiance. Many hedge plants can be aromatic if you add them to the mix and you might choose to save trimmings from pine or juniper bushes for this purpose.
6) Spread the trimmings on top of snow-covered areas to help prevent ice build-up and to keep the snow from becoming too heavy. The hedge clippings will break up pockets of ice and help prevent dangerous clumps, especially on pavements and driveways. The green colour can also be helpful in breaking through light layers that may form over a snowy surface during sunny periods which can avoid dazzle and make it easier to see.
There are many hedge plants whose trimmings can be safely used for some of these idea. However some plants, such as laurel oak or juniper are hazardous to your health if you handle them without gloves so be sure to use the right safety equipment. If you need advice on choosing the right gardening gloves, I’ve got you covered!
I hope you find this list useful; it’s really rewarding if you can put your hedge trimmings to good use.
If you’ve got any more suggestions on what to do with hedge trimmings them please get in touch! I’m always keen for new ideas.