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I’ve just joined a shoot for next season and we have a large area that was woodland but has been cut down. 

 

Its very open at present so we are looking to plant some shrubs and bushes / cover, which has been given the go ahead from the farmer. 

 

I was having a look at this package - 

https://www.ashridgetrees.co.uk/nature-mix

 

 

Any thoughts on this package? I was watching one of the springer champs DVDS the other day and noticed that Laurel can do a great job of holding birds :) 

 

What size area would say 50 plants cover please? 

How soon would we need to plant and would they provide cover in time for next season? 

 

We are also looking to let some patches go to bramble, and put some general cover down such as log piles, wood pallets etc that natural cover can just grow through. 

 

Thanks 

 

Lloyd 

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It really depends on what your soil type is with respect of what to choose to plant. Our shoot is on sand and laurel grows very well as does rhododendron, which are both brilliant for holding birds. We tend to have it as cover under trees: there is only one place we have it without trees over the top, which is a hedge we planted last year. We have "box hedge", which is probably more like that shrub honey suckle stuff, and the bottom of one of our pens in a wood. It is brilliant to push the birds in the pen into, and then trickle them out of the hedge at the bottom. I don't know how many birds it actually holds on its own.

Bear in mind that if you plant them and we have a dry summer like we did last year then you are going to need to water them every other day- especially if they are in the open and able to be scorched by the sun. 

Be careful with the brambles: they very easily get very thick and only the most determined spaniels will go through it. The way we get round this on our shoot is by cutting paths through the brambles with a machine which divides them into 5 meter by 5 meter blocks, so you can reach in with a stick, and you can get dogs in easier. This works ok, but it never holds that many birds- but that may be due to the location/nature of the wood rather than the undercover.

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That lonicera nitida is an excellent plant for holding birds if there is enough of it. The other plants on your list are fine too. Laurel tends to get very leggy and has no real protection from the element value at ground level once it has grown up. Some need to be cut down regularly (but not frequently) particularly the Symphoricarpos. Managing brambles with a brush cutter is an excellent way of providing good ground cover.

You have probably missed this planting season now, after all competing species still need to be removed and the ground sprayed before planting. 

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1 hour ago, JDog said:

That lonicera nitida is an excellent plant for holding birds if there is enough of it. The other plants on your list are fine too. Laurel tends to get very leggy and has no real protection from the element value at ground level once it has grown up. Some need to be cut down regularly (but not frequently) particularly the Symphoricarpos. Managing brambles with a brush cutter is an excellent way of providing good ground cover.

You have probably missed this planting season now, after all competing species still need to be removed and the ground sprayed before planting. 

 

If we plant some now will it be a total waste of time? 🤔

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13 minutes ago, Lloyd90 said:

 

If we plant some now will it be a total waste of time? 🤔

Not necessarily but shrubs are coming into leaf and will require watering regularly. 

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40 minutes ago, JDog said:

Not necessarily but shrubs are coming into leaf and will require watering regularly. 

Thankfully we have mains water to both of our pens / woods so after just checking that shouldn’t be an issue :) 

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Posted (edited)

Whatever you plant unless you buy large plants it is going to be two/three years before you really see a benefit.  Laurel will provide warmth and cover from the elements but will take four or five years to provide any cover at all.   Whatever you do plant them far enough apart or in rows so you can get up between them and knock any brambles back with  swipe.  I have laurels in my wood I grew from cuttings and they are now 20yrs old and 30ft across and 20ft high maybe more. The pheasants I have love them as they can scuttle underneath if they feel threatened and one or two roost in them now as well.  So, laurel would be my first choice.  I have picked up and beaten in woods with snowberry and you can keep that stuff, it grows so thick, almost imprenetrable even for a dog.  The odd hawthorn dotted about is also not a bad idea. They provide berries and eventually can be laid to add cover.

Whatever you plant , do not expect and instant return. My small ten acre wood is now 23yrs old and is just starting to look like a wood.  We had a small coppice on a shoot where we pushed in some willow and within no time had sizeable trees which when cut down produced masses of growth.  Planted in a close circle... 15 o 20ft across willow would also provide cover because other 'wild' stuff would grow up around and through them. Easy to whack them off with a chain saw and within 9 months you will have 5 to 6ft of growth again.

You don't have to buy willow, just cut some long half inch thick wands and push hem in as far as you can the deeper the better.  I would plant them in a circle as said 20 ft across and also fill the area in the circle as well, about a yard apart.  The willow would grow very quickly and the wild herbage would soon filll that circle with ground level cover.   Pity your the wrong way to where I am or I could provide a couple of hundred slips for you. I don't get down that way often these days.  They need putting in now before the end of April.  I bet you have tons of the stuff around there anyway.

Edited by Walker570

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Walker570 said:

Whatever you plant unless you buy large plants it is going to be two/three years before you really see a benefit.  Laurel will provide warmth and cover from the elements but will take four or five years to provide any cover at all.   Whatever you do plant them far enough apart or in rows so you can get up between them and knock any brambles back with  swipe.  I have laurels in my wood I grew from cuttings and they are now 20yrs old and 30ft across and 20ft high maybe more. The pheasants I have love them as they can scuttle underneath if they feel threatened and one or two roost in them now as well.  So, laurel would be my first choice.  I have picked up and beaten in woods with snowberry and you can keep that stuff, it grows so thick, almost imprenetrable even for a dog.  The odd hawthorn dotted about is also not a bad idea. They provide berries and eventually can be laid to add cover.

Whatever you plant , do not expect and instant return. My small ten acre wood is now 23yrs old and is just starting to look like a wood.  We had a small coppice on a shoot where we pushed in some willow and within no time had sizeable trees which when cut down produced masses of growth.  Planted in a close circle... 15 o 20ft across willow would also provide cover because other 'wild' stuff would grow up around and through them. Easy to whack them off with a chain saw and within 9 months you will have 5 to 6ft of growth again.

You don't have to buy willow, just cut some long half inch thick wands and push hem in as far as you can the deeper the better.  I would plant them in a circle as said 20 ft across and also fill the area in the circle as well, about a yard apart.  The willow would grow very quickly and the wild herbage would soon filll that circle with ground level cover.   Pity your the wrong way to where I am or I could provide a couple of hundred slips for you. I don't get down that way often these days.  They need putting in now before the end of April.  I bet you have tons of the stuff around there anyway.

 

Thanks Walker that's really helpful :) 

 

Where do I find some willow ... I will have to get looking! 

 

 

BTW Walker, with Laurel. is there any benefit to letting it grow taller? Or would it be better to cut it at say 4ft high?

Edited by Lloyd90

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2 hours ago, Walker570 said:

Whatever you plant unless you buy large plants it is going to be two/three years before you really see a benefit.  Laurel will provide warmth and cover from the elements but will take four or five years to provide any cover at all.   Whatever you do plant them far enough apart or in rows so you can get up between them and knock any brambles back with  swipe.  I have laurels in my wood I grew from cuttings and they are now 20yrs old and 30ft across and 20ft high maybe more. The pheasants I have love them as they can scuttle underneath if they feel threatened and one or two roost in them now as well.  So, laurel would be my first choice.  I have picked up and beaten in woods with snowberry and you can keep that stuff, it grows so thick, almost imprenetrable even for a dog.  The odd hawthorn dotted about is also not a bad idea. They provide berries and eventually can be laid to add cover.

Whatever you plant , do not expect and instant return. My small ten acre wood is now 23yrs old and is just starting to look like a wood.  We had a small coppice on a shoot where we pushed in some willow and within no time had sizeable trees which when cut down produced masses of growth.  Planted in a close circle... 15 o 20ft across willow would also provide cover because other 'wild' stuff would grow up around and through them. Easy to whack them off with a chain saw and within 9 months you will have 5 to 6ft of growth again.

You don't have to buy willow, just cut some long half inch thick wands and push hem in as far as you can the deeper the better.  I would plant them in a circle as said 20 ft across and also fill the area in the circle as well, about a yard apart.  The willow would grow very quickly and the wild herbage would soon filll that circle with ground level cover.   Pity your the wrong way to where I am or I could provide a couple of hundred slips for you. I don't get down that way often these days.  They need putting in now before the end of April.  I bet you have tons of the stuff around there anyway.

This is very sound advice and was as i mentioned in another topic,  any opening in a wooded area can quickly be planted with a cheap fast growing willow [salix viminalis] after a year or two it can be partially cut and laid down, the resulting re-growth should make a perfect habitat for pheasant etc, here is a picture of an area i did a few weeks ago on my croft

DSCN2494.JPG.9268df7bfec09fd947946e21fa0afae2.JPG

 

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It grows well then! Does it get too thick or pheasants just get in it?

 

Quick question: Is Laurel poisonous to farm stock? 

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All of the above is sound advice but I would not get too hung up on bringing in things to plant. As this growing season gets underway there will be a whole host of plants/trees/shrubs that will have been lying dormant and will now shoot up. I find it amazing how quickly nature fills in a void. It may pay to see what comes naturally and then fill in spaces/ add to it over the next couple of years.

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20 minutes ago, Clodhopper said:

All of the above is sound advice but I would not get too hung up on bringing in things to plant. As this growing season gets underway there will be a whole host of plants/trees/shrubs that will have been lying dormant and will now shoot up. I find it amazing how quickly nature fills in a void. It may pay to see what comes naturally and then fill in spaces/ add to it over the next couple of years.

 

That's what has happened in the last space that was cut and left but they do seem to just fill up with thick bramble so you can end up with dense cover that both beaters and dogs struggle to get through. 

 

Will have to just cut and keep on top of bits of it :) 

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We have done similar to SS with regards to brambles. It has been divided into blocks( this is the hardest part) and now just requires a dose of glyphosate along the rides  late spring/ early summer to keep them clear. 

What ever you decide it will be good fun doing it and the rewards will be all the more enjoyable. Good luck, keep us posted.

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1 hour ago, Lloyd90 said:

It grows well then! Does it get too thick or pheasants just get in it?

 

Quick question: Is Laurel poisonous to farm stock? 

regarding willow, those ive done i cut them about  18" high which would allow the birds a safe refuge with the growth above them,  heres a pic of a bit of hedge,  note they are just laid over, not hedge laying by any means. 

I dont think laurel is poisonous but best check

DSCN2501.JPG.5c2234c0924fd47a372bcae013e5c1c6.JPG

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15 minutes ago, islandgun said:

regarding willow, those ive done i cut them about  18" high which would allow the birds a safe refuge with the growth above them,  heres a pic of a bit of hedge,  note they are just laid over, not hedge laying by any means. 

I dont think laurel is poisonous but best check

DSCN2501.JPG.5c2234c0924fd47a372bcae013e5c1c6.JPG

 

 

Will birds go into cover like that?

 

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Work out now where you can get through with a tractor and swipe and mark the route avoiding stumps obviously hen plan your planting either side of these 'rides'.

Laying willow as Old B suggests will keep a clear area beneath the growth as will almost always grows straight up. I will take some photos of my laurel and some willows I coppiced last year and show just how fast they will grow.  If you lived closer you could have had the lot off that one tree, because by this time next year it will have grown twice as thick.

Laying any brash in rows is also a good way of providing cover and relatively easy to knock out on shoot days.

If your planning ahead then if you see ome laurels and they are being trimmed pruned, grab some of the prunings.. at least 12 o 15 inches, strip all the leaves of but the top two and bury in the ground with just these top two leaves showing.  50% of them will strike if not more.  The ones I will show in the photo tomorow I grew in the same way in my veg garden then transferred to the wood once rooted and producing some growth, two seasons.

Hope this all helps.

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16 hours ago, Lloyd90 said:

 

 

Will birds go into cover like that?

 

Hers a better picture. I dont know if pheasants will go in there as we dont have pheasants.. the space underneath can be as high as you want it, the regrowth will all go up ! my posey dog is lying down, but he loves it under there

DSCN2519.JPG.aec8415ec3e7d1e481f0b62e720d56e7.JPG

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3 minutes ago, Old farrier said:

Anything to stop you from hatching out some pheasants and releasing them? 

Looks a good habitat for them 

Hmm good question,  We have little to no arable or woodland tbh.. i grow about an acre of willow and try to do an acre or two of oats, but thats about it.. otherwise its heather and grass.. I would also object to supplying one or two of my unscrupulous neighbours with an easy sunday lunch..🤐

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3 hours ago, islandgun said:

Hers a better picture. I dont know if pheasants will go in there as we dont have pheasants.. the space underneath can be as high as you want it, the regrowth will all go up ! my posey dog is lying down, but he loves it under there

DSCN2519.JPG.aec8415ec3e7d1e481f0b62e720d56e7.JPG

What do you shoot on your land? 

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13 minutes ago, Lloyd90 said:

What do you shoot on your land? 

Geese, ducks, rabbits. woodcock...... golden plover and snipe occasionally.. ive laid over this willow out of interest, to see if woodcock will sit there..

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Posted (edited)

Just an indication as to how fast willow will grow, the first picture is regrowth on a stump we coppiced this time last year.

The second picture is of some laurels I struck in my veg garden 20yrs ago and planted in my wood.

The picture of my tractor shows a bund I have just put in with hardcore and will be covered with soil and grassed. I intend pushing in willow rods along either side to eventually form an avenue/arch and also the roots will support the structure.

005.jpg

008.jpg

016.jpg

Edited by Walker570

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On 13/04/2019 at 17:12, Lloyd90 said:

Where do I find some willow ... I will have to get looking! 

Anywhere there is water. River banks are covered in the stuff. 

Willow will happily grow 6ft in a year in the right conditions. Bear in mind, it's great cover but unless you keep hammering it back, it will turn into the tree it wants to be. Buy a hedge cutter and hammer it down every year to a desired height. It's very easy to cut and manage, and will pretty much grow anywhere. 

Also laurel is poisonous when ingested, not that I've heard of cattle eating it. 

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11 hours ago, strimmer_13 said:

Willow will happily grow 6ft in a year in the right conditions

My osier puts on up to 14ft in a season. It's astonishing

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Any tips lads on how to manage bramble? 

We luckily we a load that is cut to blocks but as said it’s so damn thick we don’t think birds can get into it let alone dogs... do you just whack the hell out of it to thin it out? 

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