Hedges are the preferred habitat of many birds and small mammals, of which we are lucky to have in abundance. However, their numbers are in decline across the UK mainly due to habitat loss. So, let us give them somewhere nice to live.
Traditional hedgelaying is an ancient technique that creates thick impenetrable thick hedges, ideal for our feathered and furry friends alike. Many hedgerow plants have berries which also provide a valuable source of food. It is incredibly inexpensive as can be done by hand with just a billhook and maybe a small saw. The process is essentially, to take a trunk of a hedge tree, cut through the majority of the trunk leaving some flesh and a good connection of bark on one side. The trunk is then bent over and pushed to the ground. Hooked pegs like a tent peg can be made form hedge cuttings to pin the trunk to the ground. The remaining bark connection will continue to feed the tree and keep it alive, whilst the parts that are pressed against the ground by the pegs will create roots. Then shoots will appear over the entire length of the trunk growing vertically upwards. Each of which will sprout branches and create a thick dense wood in the centre of the hedge. A sturdy frame of fresh hedge cuttings are woven to form a solid structure for the young hedge to form around. Then the hedge is pruned to encourage denser growth, but with some tress left to reach full height.
That’s about it really, although I also like to pick Sloes from Blackthorn bushes to make Sloe Gin. It is generally ready by Christmas and makes a very tasty festive drink. Don’t worry I always leave plenty of Sloes for the birds, in fact they always get all the biggest juiciest ones that are out of my reach.
Renovation of existing hedges
The aim of this project is to use traditional hedge laying methods to create a denser hedge, that provide a more protected and therefor attractive habitat to birds.
- Hedge laying and management
- Diversify species by additional planting
- Add bird boxes and friendly habitat features
- Monitor bird usage
Check out our progress on the blog http://newt.earth/hedgelaying/