Hedgelaying is a traditional method of boundary management also known as ‘steeping’ or ‘pleaching’ which involves the partial cutting and bending over of saplings and small trees along the hedge. There are different methods of hedgelaying around the country.

In the westcountry the agricultural or boundary hedge is usually sited on top of an earth retained wall (a Devon bank or Cornish hedge) In this instance the hedge is layed near to horizontal and pegged in place to prevent being ‘blown out’. The benefits of a layed hedge are great , such as stockproofing, shelter, wildlife and amenity. If the hedge has been unmanaged for too long and the stem diameter is generally over 200mm the usual recommendation would be to coppice (cut to the ground in winter) and lay the regrowth in a few years time.
At the same time as laying the hedge it may be necessary to carry out additional boundary repairs to the stone face or replacing the soil on top of the hedge after decades of erosion from stock, weather and rabbits. If the hedge is ‘gappy’ it is a good time to plant some transplants or saplings. It may also be necessary to fence along the hedge to prevent ongoing erosion. These works are carried out when the wood is in dormancy between November and March (although the season seems to get shorter each year).

 

 

 

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