Hedgelaying

Midlands-style layed hedge with stakes and binders

Well maintained hedges can be as important as woodlands in providing habitat for wildlife and a well laid hedge is the foundation of a well maintained hedge.

Although hedgelaying is typically associated with an agricultural setting, it can be equally useful in bringing a neglected garden privet hedge back under control.

With prices starting from £5 a yard, please contact me if you are interested in laying your hedge.

If you are looking to the lay a hedge yourself I can also supply stakes and binders.

Why lay a hedge?

The primary reason for laying a hedge is generally to renovate the hedge while retaining a sturdy stock-proof boundary.

Although the pleachers are not entirely severed from the stool, laying a hedge re-invigorates the individual plants within the hedge similiarly to coppicing, preventing the plants growing away into trees, encouraging them to produce new growth from the base and extending their natural life.

Hedgelaying, sometimes combined with replanting, will fill gaps in the hedge caused by lost stools and leggy plants, giving you a dense, well-stocked hedge which will provide an adequate barrier or boundary as well as a rich, thick habitat for wildlife.

Styles of hedgelaying

There are a variety of traditional styles of hedgelaying which typically have regional roots based on the local availability of materials and the primary purpose for whcih the hedges were used.

In Herts and Middlesex we are on the borders of a cross-over of the "South of England" and "Midland", or "Standard", styles. The most obvious difference between the two of them is that the South of England style is "double-brushed" (the twiggy bits stick out on both sides of the finished hedge giving stock protection on both sides) while the Midlands style will have a "field side", where the brush will keep the livestock away from the new growth at the base of the hedge, and a "ditch side" which is much more open, but not normally at risk of browsing.

The choice of style will depend on the purpose of the hedge and on its location, with Midlands hedges being more appropriate next to roads and paths and South of England between livestock fields or where heavy deer browsing is likely to be a problem.

Hedge restoration

Old and neglected hedges will benefit from laying but often need some other form of restoration before laying is possible.

In extreme cases coppicing the hedge may be the quickest route to restoring it, promoting vigourous new growth as it does in a woodland setting. This can be combined with planting new plants if the hedge is gappy, but may require fencing to maintain the boundary in the the years it will take for the hedge to regrow to a point at which it can be laid.

Wide spreading hedges should be "sided up" along their length a year or two before laying to allow the hedge time to recover.

Leggy, "birds nest" hedges should be allowed to grow up for a few years to give sufficient length of material to lay

The National Hedgelaying Society

The National Hedgelaying Society, of which I am a member, is dedicated to improving the understanding of hedgerows and improving the standards of hedgerow management throughout the UK.

They provide a list of hedgelayers by region to allow you to find one close to you.