Since the start of October I have been developing my hedgelaying skills at work, helping to lay the hedge at the entrance to the National Trust’s Penshaw Monument…
Hedgelaying is a traditional craft that has been practiced for hundreds of years. Laying hedges is a technique for managing hedgerows to keep them thick and bushy, which makes them impenetrable to stock and a haven for wildlife.
Without proper management, over time any hedge will eventually turn into a row of trees as lower branches are shaded out and larger plants dominate smaller ones. This makes them ineffective as a field boundary. To combat this, hedgelaying evolved as a way of maintaining hedges. It involves cutting part way through the stems of the plants in the hedge so that they can be bent over and woven between a row of stakes. This creates a sort of living fence. Rather than damaging the plants, it rejuvenates them so they send up lots of new growth that can be used the next time the hedge needs to be laid.
Hedgelaying is quite a skill and achieving results that are pleasing to the eye isn’t easy. In fact it has developed into a bit of a competitive sport and there are many competitions held all over the country to find Britain’s best hedgelayers! I’m not quite up to that standard, but hopefully you’ll find our hedge easy on the eye once it’s finished!