Have a go at hedgelaying

A group of people laying a hedge

Join Farmer Mike Amos and National Trust Ranger Tor Stanfield at Lower Failand Farm and learn how to lay a hedge from start to finish on three consecutive Sundays. 14th, 21st and 28th February.

Hedgerows are a vital part of the British countryside, as both a field boundary and a valuable wildlife habitat. This course aims to introduce the practical skills of traditional hedgelaying management and how best this can be done to conserve the wildlife that rely on them.

Visit our what's on page for more information.

How do you lay a hedge?

The basic method involves cutting the majority of the way through the stem/trunk of each tree and “laying” it down along the line of the hedge, on top of the previous tree. This creates a slanted, fencelike structure, which new shoots should grow vertically up from in spring.

There are a variety of different styles, some incorporating stakes, binders or banks, each designed to suit the geography and farming methods of the region in which they are practiced.

Ecological benefits of hedgelaying

As well as being a traditional rural skill, and therefore having intrinsic value, hedgelaying offers a number of ecological benefits. Primarily, by having a hedge, a large amount of highly valuable habitat is made available to wildlife. Hedgerows are often associated with BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan) species, which provide food sources and nest sites for a huge variety of insects, birds and mammals.

Hedges can also help prevent soil erosion, capture pollutants, and allow wildlife to move more freely across the countryside. By managing the hedge by laying, the trees are encouraged to regenerate; this extends their life, and that of the hedge as a whole. It also creates a constant supply of new, bushy growth, providing cover for a greater number of species.