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All About Hedge Laying From Expert Fencers, Fence Tree

Hedge laying is almost unique to the UK and Ireland, and even here, it’s practised in many different ways across the country, with regional variations that are very distinctive from each other. Here, as veteran specialists in hedging in Shropshire, we give a brief overview of the principles involved and why it’s an important practice.

Hedge Laying From Expert Fencers

What Is the Purpose of Hedge Laying?

Hedge laying has been carried out in the UK for centuries. It began as a way to effectively keep cattle, sheep and other livestock penned in their fields and prevent them from straying. If a hedge is left untended in any way, it eventually grows out into individual trees. As these trees grow taller, growth in the lower areas dies off, leaving unsightly gaps that increase in size, making the hedge less effective as a fence. Hedge laying stops that process and effectively regenerates the hedge by restricting height and encouraging growth from ground level to the hedge top, to create a thick, luxuriant barrier.

Why Are Hedges Better Than Wooden or Metal Fences?

Hedges, of course, are a natural barrier and look much more attractive than other, man-made barriers. Then, there’s the fact that a hedge provides livestock with far more shelter and protection from wind than a barbed wire or even wooden fence. Maintenance of a hedge, once laid, is much simpler too. Rather than having to frequently apply wood preservative, for example, and mend broken panels on a timber fence, a hedge just needs a simple trim from time to time. A well laid hedge that’s regularly maintained can last for upward of 50 years, so it’s a more cost-effective solution to fencing than man-made versions, which will inevitably need replacing, and cost more, over the same period of time. 

Lastly, and very importantly these days with conservation and protection of the environment high up on people’s agendas, hedges form valuable habitats for wildlife. They’re a source of food and provide corridors for safe passage away from the dangers of roads.

What Does Hedge Laying Involve?

Hedge laying is usually undertaken in the months between October and March. This is because during that time, plants, trees and shrubs are dormant and wildlife, particularly birds, aren’t using the hedges for bringing up young. As noted above, hedge laying is done differently across the country, but the general principles stay the same. 

Stems close to ground level are bent and partially cut (which is known as pleaching) to encourage them to grow horizontally and to intertwine with each other. The art is in knowing which stems to cut and where, and also ensuring that the cut isn’t too deep. The cut stem must still remain connected to the shrub’s roots so it can continue to grow. Other stems which are still too small and other plants that are growing within the hedge may be cut away and discarded or woven into the cut stems to give the hedge substance. Upright stakes are also planted at intervals along the line of the hedge to help give it further strength as it develops. 

Whether you’re in charge of farmland management, and need hedge laying services to set or maintain your fields’ boundaries or you’re a residential homeowner who needs help with hedging, Fence Tree, fencers in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, can assist. We’re also expert tree surgeons who can help with everything from domestic tree maintenance to large-scale woodland management and countryside stewardship.

Fencers in Shrewsbury

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