Meadow Hedge Management

Many thanks to Andrew Martin from Ffos y Broga for this update, and photos, of his hedgerow management this autumn…

Thanks to all who contributed suggestions for how to get rid of a huge amount of brushwood which resulted from our efforts to take what was a young treeline back to being a hedge.  It looked to us as though it was flailed to normal hedge height and width on both sides up until about 10-15 years ago.

You could still just about see the flail line at hedge height when looking against the light through the treeline …

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The hedge was originally on top of the bank that is the field boundary, where there is also a fairly ramshackle sheep netting fence.  On the other side, the field belongs to our farmer neighbour, Dorian.  On his side, there are a lot of hawthorn and blackthorn stems growing down the bank and on the flat edge of the field, presumably set from seed from sloes/haws above.  Since Dorian has been flailing his side of the hedge/treeline (but not the top) and it’s south facing, there is plenty of light for these new plants to establish.  Conversely, it’s very dark on our north side of the boundary, and there were few new stems on or next to the bank, but lots of growth horizontally straight out into the field as well as upwards…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is the south edge of the field, so reducing it back to hedge height will let a lot more light into the meadow. The trees/hedge are hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel, and some holly, together with one large multi-stemmed willow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On our side of the bank we did some crude hedge laying with the stems that were suitable, so we hope these should shoot from the cut bases and along the lengths of the stems to thicken up the hedge.  In our experience, when it comes to hedge laying, if a thing’s worth doing it’s still worth doing badly, as this isn’t going to win any prizes but it does seem to work.  There were three nice young oak trees that we decided to leave as standard trees. The rest (most of it) that wasn’t suitable for laying, we just cut down to about the height of the former flail line, and we’re hoping that Dorian will flail the hedge to this height in subsequent years.  This produced a lot of material!  We kept anything more than an inch or so in diameter for firewood, and piled up everything else as brushwood …

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As you can see from this picture, this was the amount of brush collected before we’d cut most of the hedge, so you can imagine how much there was in total, we didn’t have a wide enough angle lens to photograph it.  We followed the consensus of advice from comments on the blog, and disposed of the brush by burning, with one bonfire on our side and a smaller one on Dorian’s side – with his permission of course! If you get a hot fire going with a few old cardboard boxes, pallets and scrap wood,  it’s surprisingly easy to burn a vast amount of brush very quickly.  The burnt area on our field (with a smaller one on Dorian’s) is only a couple of metres in diameter …

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There is a lot of firewood, some of which is now in our log shed …

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

with more awaiting space to store it …

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

so we’re not expecting to be shivering next winter.  We have a device known as the “log thing“, made out of some old angle iron and a wheelbarrow…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

which is invaluable for moving quite large weights of logs if you don’t want to drive a vehicle on soft winter ground, so we used this to transport the logs when we found that the trailer was starting to make a bit of a mess of the fields.

 

When the hedge plants start to shoot in the spring, and before the sheep are evicted at the end of March, we’ll probably protect the laid bits of hedge from sheep browsing with some electric fencing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This last photo, and number 4 in this post show the same views now as photos 2 and 3 did a year ago.  We’ll see what it looks like in another few years.

Thanks for reading.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s