Rural Skills Trust has been putting on Hedgelaying courses on a local small farm in Newcastle Emlyn.
Over the 4 days of the course each person managed to clear out a section of hedge, lay the hedge plants into a new hedge, find and harvest materials for staking and binding, and finally stake and bind a section of hedge. The learning approach is, of course, mostly learning by doing, with a short ‘talking’ session on assessing risks. Those interested in gaining hedge-laying work were given further advice on the types of hedge likely to be found in this area and a guide on pricing the job.
There was a wide range of traditional edged tools available to practice with. The instructor also gave sessions describing the different types of tools available, described their particular and special uses and encouraged each person to have a go with the various types and weights available. Hedgelaying is perfectly achievable by people with a wide range of strengths, especially if you chose the right tool.
The length of hedge we tackled on the course had been laid previously, but probably not for 20 years. On the four days we concentrated on the hedgelaying operation. The hedge required further hedgerow renovation to form a proper hedge barrier which would have involved some new planting and the banks re-battering. As a place for learning the skills of hedge-laying it was, however, an excellent location! We are in the process of developing a hedgerow renovation course which will involve the wider skills and knowledge to bring back to life an ailing hedge and bank so watch out for this in next seasons events.
The impact on the environment?
The results from the finished part are really impressive. The different species of hedge plants – mostly hawthorn here – together with the occasional hazel and elm tree have been shaped and laid to form a barrier. This will develop over the next growing season back into a thick hedge, providing an effective barrier for stock and a dense, deep protective corridor for flora and fauna. The brambles and dog rose will soon return too!
The section here has been regularly staked and bound with hazel. This helps the hedge maintain its structure during the first couple of years after re-laying.
What is particularly striking about the laid hedge is the clearing out and setting free of young trees. The elm tree pictured here has been cleared of encumbering brambles and thorn and over the next decade will hopefully grow into a young mature tree, standing in the hedge.
We’ll be back up to Bronhydden Fawr to finish the stretch we started next week.