Hedgerows help to define the uniqueness of the British countryside and are an important wildlife habitat. They require sympathetic management if we are to preserve them for future generations.
Whilst many regard hedgerows as a natural feature of our countryside they are really a traditional form of field boundary and enclosure that only exist because of deliberate planting and subsequent maintenance.
Hedges serve to keep stock in a pasture and out of crop fields. They also provide shade for stock, protection from the wind, and guard against soil erosion. They provide both a valuable wildlife habitat and corridor, not only in the hedge itself but also any associated ditch and bank.
Hedgelaying is the traditional way of managing hedges throughout large parts of England and Wales, and has been practiced for hundreds of years. Actively carried out during the winter months, it involves cutting nearly all the way through the base of the stems and laying them over at an angle of about 35 degrees.
The cut stems called pleachers are tucked tightly together, staked vertically and bound horizontally for strength to produce a strong aesthetically pleasing hedge.
Stumps are left as clean and tidy as possible since this is where re-growth is most desired and eventually a new hedge will grow from the already established root system. In the meantime, the laid pleachers act as a living barrier as well as protecting the re-growth from browsing animals. Where the cycle of laying and trimming is repeated hedges can thrive for hundreds of years.
Countrycare works with a group of volunteers throughout the winter to lay hedges in the district. If you would like us to lay a hedge for you call the Countrycare office on 01992 564224 or email: contactCountrycare@eppingforestdc.gov.uk