Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Dead Hedges

This winter we have completed a lot of hedges. The best one is along the Ouse Valley Way between Hayling and Cloudy Pits where we have a live hedge. Living bushes are cut part-way through at the base and then laid down. Ash posts give support and hazel wands are used for tying in the tops. This is a traditional way to manage hedges so that they remain impenetrable at ground level, keeping livestock in the fields. Neglected hedges become tall and "leggy" and they support less wildlife.
Dead hedges use the same technique as laid hedges but we utilise brashings from felled trees. They don't continue to grow and so they will, in time, rot away and need replacing. However, they do provide shelter and support for plants like bramble and nettle, and they make a barrier to prevent disturbance. In Wray House garden we have recently put in a dead hedge because the undergrowth has almost all been browsed out of this very important site, where three or four Nightingale territories converge. Similarly, we are extending a dead hedge around Rory's Wood to give the undergrowth a chance to get going in spring.

If you want to know more about any aspect of reserve management, e-mail me at