Macerating Hedgerows

Following our recent attempt to cut a small section of the hedgerow ourselves to see how practicable that was ( Answer: not practicable at all – we have a kilometre of hedge, a rickety ladder, a heavy hedge trimmer and two old soft bodies) we contacted the farmer that has been used by the previous owner of the meadows for years to keep the hedgerows in order. He farms at St Margarets and turns his attentions to his hedgerows in November to January once the heavy work of the harvest is over. He was very happy to continue to do ours as well at a cost of £25 an hour. This seemed very reasonable to us and we promptly put ourselves onto his list.

This morning was the day and the tractor arrived first thing

Tim and his human sidekick arriving in the tractor
A dogs life

The tractor has a manoeuvrable arm with a flailing head with it which basically cuts the plants and shreds them into little bits that fall to the ground within the hedge. Anything too woody ends up with a very smashed up look to it at the end of the process.

The Flailing Head



Macerated plant material falls down into the base of the hedge

We asked him if the hedge cutting could be done at a slant producing an A shape hedge, thicker at the bottom than the top which we have been advised is the healthy hedge shape to aim for. I am not sure this is quite what we got – I think we now have a flat sided hedge with a pointed top but, anyway, this does look better than a flat cut top

Flat sides and pointed top

The tractor has now cut the entire hedgerow dividing the two meadows.



It has also cut the hedgerow between the first meadow and the landward farmers field, including driving out into the farmers field and cutting it on that side as well.

Cutting from the farmers field side
Some deep tread marks left in the soft ground of our meadows

This leaves several runs of hedge that have not been cut this year. These uncut hedgerows will still carry berries on them to feed the wildlife through the winter and hopefully through the Hunger Gap of late winter/early spring when a lot of countryside food resources have been used up and the birds are struggling to feed themselves. Well, we hope so, anyway. It will be interesting to see if there are berries left in February and March.

Next year, the plan is to cut other bits of hedgerow so that each bit is only cut every three years which should be the best balance between maintaining hedge health while still retaining food to feed the wildlife through the hard times.



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