Hedgelaying #1: A bit further along.

So as you know from my first blog on hedgelaying I once earned 30-60% of my annual income from hedgelaying work.

I’m currently laying 350m of hedge at home, I will sadly not get it done before the end of March cut off for cutting on the grant we have on this work but it’s a two year scheme so I can roll it over to next year with out a problem and pick straight up in the first of September.

To answer a few question I took a few photo yesterday to illustrate the cuts and how they are made. The initial pleaching cut is made with either a chainsaw, axe or billhook (will show this later). The cut is made down and slightly across the grain to thin the stem and allow it to bend over. The cut stems are then laid over ideally at 45degrees but that depends on the size of the hedge and the amount of timber in it.

Once laid over the stems are “built” into a hedge using stakes that are knocked into the ground. Then in our style “midland” or “bullock” hedge a woven binding is added on top using willow or hazel rods to tie in the stake tops together. This binding prevents the wind lifting the pleachers it also stopped the bullocks that the hedge was named after from lifting the pleachers with there horns.

This hedge was planted when the road was widened and straightened and the original field made smaller in the late 60s early 70s.
It for many years was trimmed using a flail hedge cutter to around chest height and that is the clear growth point you can see in the original photos I posted.

We have then trimmed off all the growth on the face side of the stems to around 5ft high, that is typical for midland style as we have a clear face side to the hedgerow.

Tags: hedgelaying

Dreaming of a sawmill, feels like a museum. Thanks for looking Adam.

  • Part 1: A bit further along.

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9 Comments

Bo Peep ...

A good explanation of the process. Wasn’t the one side of the hedge kept clean so that you had livestock on one side and the other side was arable. By cleaning the one side it gave the crops better access to sunlight and less competition overall? Obviously this is for the Midlands style hedges as I know other styles can have very flat hedges as they weren’t used to keep in livestock

Whitacrebespoke ...

You are quite right, midland style developed on mixed farms and hedges were laid as part of the crop rotation, clean or face side to the arable field and brush to the grass land.

The clean side helps speed the regrowth

lightweightladylefty ...

Thanks for more details. Will you continue this blog in September when you start on the work again?

L/W

Whitacrebespoke ...

I will indeed continue the blog next autumn, I may even squeeze in another instalment this month as I may get a couple of days done this week too.

Brian ...

Thanks for the update. The cut seems so deep. It looks almost cut off completely.

Whitacrebespoke ...

Brian, it’s amazing what will survive. They only need a very small strap as you need to be able to bend them. Provided the cambium layer on the underside is intact it will survive.

It’s also a balancing act you need the strap to be enough that the pleacher survives and you get growth from it but also need growth up from the base so it fills the holes in the base of the hedge and you have future wood to lay.

Effectively it’s building a live fence and coppicing the old growth too.

Wes Louwagie ...

Ive researched this hedge laying couple years back, as they look very cool. Gave it a try but mine all died, and did not look like the pics:(

Whitacrebespoke ...

Where abouts in the world are you Wes? Not all species will take laying.

Wes Louwagie ...

I’m in Minnesota. Yes I suppose you’re right. Also I didn’t put to much effort into it, just gave it a go with some shrubs on the edge of my property. Did maybe 50’ to see if it would work.