Basic characteristics

Even if you do not decide to plant a particular edge to a new woodland, an edge zone will develop. If so, why not make a special design for the edge zones if you have the chance? There are many advantages, such as aesthetic improvement, increased wind shelter for the woodland interior behind or increased wildlife value. The edge zone is also a preferable zone for children and their play. Here they can find shelter and construct huts, and here they should be able to find good climbing trees from which they can obtain an overview of the more open surroundings (Figure 7.22).

Sub-characteristics

Edge types can vary in-between the extremes, from a three-staged edge with an outdrawn profile to a onestaged edge. When enough space is available, the ‘three-staged edge’ can get a depth of 30-50 m, and several zones can be identified, from the inner edge zones to the middle edge zones and the outer edge zones. In the inner edge zone, a high woodland type with specific edge trees can be found. In the middle edge zone, a low woodland type can sometimes be found, but this is uncommon in practice. Finally, the shrubs dominate the outer edge zone, but not all of it. This may interact with a special attractive grass-and herb-rich zone, with species that are favoured by having the shrubs and the edge trees at the back: this is a dynamic equivalent to gardens with their shrub and perennial borders. However, considering woodland edge design, variation along the edge must also be considered. The same profile might be chosen to create uniformity and a greater sense of harmony, or the opposite, with all the extremes composed in one and the same edge, can be chosen. Furthermore, specific elements should be considered as a contribution on ‘an area level’. Such elements are glades placed in the inner edge zone, ‘in-drawn’ grass wedges like creeks or inlets, ‘out-drawn’ points or tips of shrubs or trees, solitary trees and clumps placed as a forefront, small water and wetlands which are placed to maximise its function as a wildlife habitat and to increase its beauty. Such an element is also the edge path. The sensibility of how this is drawn in a designed edge zone has characterised many wellknown landscape designers.