Award winning local Hedge Layers, Mark and Doug Withers, tackle a local overgrown
hedgerow above. It used to be said, a hedge would need laying twice in a lifetime
although this is rarely the case now. The cup winning finished hedge is below!
Hedge laying is essential to remove dead material and rejuvenate growth, which keeps
hedges stock proof although, there is little need for this on today’s arable land.
However, in an arable landscape, they provide sites for mature trees in what would
otherwise be, a treeless landscape. Also, they mark out land boundaries and they
are the most biologically rich areas. Much of our native wildlife is provided for
by hedgerows from food, shelter, nest sites and a network of corridors across the
landscape. They also play a big part in feeding migratory birds like Redwing and
Fieldfare. Hedges of various heights and states of growth, provide a good variety
of habitats. Hedge laying is an essential part of managing them and they quickly
become lush and green again. They also provide winter fuel and roadside hedges help
prevent snow drifting onto roads.
There are still some ancient hedges locally which have historical value as well as
biological value and because of their age, they tend to have many species in their
makeup. The number of species over a measured stretch, can help determine the age
of a hedge. Also, ancient hedges are not usually straight and tend to follow contours
of landscape features, these might be old ridge and furrow fields, Ancient track
ways or settlement boundaries.
Some recent hedge plantings also contain many species to help increase the local
biodiversity of arable land, but again, these tend to be much straighter. Older hedges
also often have a much better count of wildflower species.