Coolings Green & Pleasant
Main Road, Knockholt, Kent, TN14 7LJ
01959 534386 | email@example.com
Written by: Carol Cooling | Thursday 1st September 2016
Hedgerows provide a characteristic patchwork in Britain’s landscape, they are a symbol of our countryside heritage.
Hedgerows support a diverse range of native plants and animals including birds, insects, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, which find food and seek shelter in them. These wildlife communities thrive in the hedgerow environment.
Since the Second World War, the countryside has seen great changes due to intensification of agriculture and development of roads and housing. Modernisation and the ever growing need for efficiency led to a great extent of hedgerows being lost and our native wildlife suffered as a consequence. It is important that hedgerows are maintained and restored by landowners and farmers, particularly if they have been neglected or damaged in the past. Methods of hedgerow maintenance such as hedgelaying can help to improve the hedgerow and support its wildlife.
There are many different methods of hedgelaying which are characteristic to different parts of the country, according to regional tradition and to the purpose of the hedge. Hedgelaying is extremely beneficial in prolonging the life of a hedge; when managed this way, hedgerows can survive for hundreds of years.
The process begins with cutting back the hedgerow to leave just a few stems, known as ‘pleachers’. The stems that are selected need to have a sufficient amount of buds on so that they can grow back thick and dense. The ‘pleachers’ are cut approximately two thirds of the way through at the base, so that they can be laid along the ground without damaging them. The ‘pleachers’ are woven in and out of stakes (usually Chestnut or Hazel) to strengthen and support it. New shoots will begin to emerge the following growing season, producing a new, thick barrier of growth. The whole process only needs to be carried out every 8 to 25 years to sufficiently maintain the hedge.
Deadwood hedges like this one are a great way to attract wildlife and help support local biodiversity (variety of life). Dead wood provides important habitat for a variety of wildlife including fungi, spiders, invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians, birds and small mammals. The gaps between the wood provide valuable shelter and nesting places for many small animals, helping them to survive the cold winter months. The dead wood will also attract predatory animals such as wrens, blackbirds and hedgehogs, who will forage over the pile looking for food (insects). Any old timber (untreated) or unwanted logs can be piled up to make a hedge like this one.