Traditional hedgelaying

Posted on Wednesday, March 11, 2009, under , , ,

There seems to be a resurgence in the art of hedgelaying, I get to see more and more of it each year on certain parts of my drive home.

This traditional hedgelaying in this country is thought to date back as far as Roman times, but it's labour intensive and so cost cutting has resulted in the unsightly hedge-top flailing by mechanical devices on the back of tractors ripping the hedges, and all that might be sheltering in them, to shreds. Quick, but ugly and certainly not providing the real and lasting benefit to wildlife and the countryside that traditional hedgelaying offers.

In the photo below, this fairly large bushes have been 'flailed' by such a mechanical device.
Rather than just ripping the top and outer branches off ,traditional hedgelaying concentrates on the base and provides for hedges to thicken from the base upwards, encouraging new and thicker growth.

The main branches are laid very flat to the ground and successive ones tucked or woven into the previous ones to provide a thick and inpenetrable (to large wildlife, sheep etc) barrier - whilst at the same time allowing access for smaller wildlife and birds.

And yet when it is carried out sometimes it seems to have gone too far, in particular with big branches such as shown below, they seem to have been cut through too far with hardly any wood left to continue the growth of the newly laid branch - yet it works and in the spring new growth shoots skyward!
Apparently landowners now have government assistance to go back to this traditional method and I think that's good. We want farmers and landowners to look after the countryside for us all to benefit from. Indeed I believe that they have a responsibility to maintain our countryside for the future, it's a job and they should be paid for doing it.

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