How to lay a hedge at Moor Green Lakes

Yesterday the volunteers joined us at Moor Green Lakes for a spot of hedge-laying. The section of footpath and bridleway at the river end is narrow, so it’s great to open up access and create a living hedge. It turns out that Tony Elston laid the hedge originally around 15 years ago, so it was great that he could help up the second time.

Firstly we pulled out bramble, whilst Mike pointed the hazel stakes that Charlotte and the volunteers had harvested from Gerry’s Copse last week. Next we started carefully pleaching the trees, by cutting the back with an axe so it can be folded (or flopped) over, to form a pleacher. It’s easy to cut off completely, but a tad trickier to leave a hinge so the pleacher stays alive so it can regrow. The left over peg of wood, or snot, is then sawn off to stop water collecting and rotting the stump.

How we lay a hedge

How we lay a hedge

Since this hedge has been previously laid, we could still see some of the original 1st generation pleachers left in the hedge. Where these were too high, we cut away to lower them, as it’s better for the structure of the hedge to have regrowth at the bottom. Elsewhere the 1st gen. pleachers had sprouted, so we laid them to create 2nd gen. pleachers. All a bit tricky to  juggle the different layers of delicate living trunks, but great to create a denser hedge which is better for wildlife.

Graeme pleaching with hatchet

Graeme pleaching with a hatchet

By lunch time we there were still some trunks to lay, so I had a go at precision chainsawing. After lunch we were ready to tap in the hazel stakes with a mallet I cut from a nearby coppice. Then Jenny led the weaving of the hazel binders which give the hedge strength.

Chris and Jon hammering in the stakes

Chris and Jon hammering in the stakes

Tony, Mike, Jenny and Chris weaving the binders

Tony, Mike, Jenny and Chris weaving the binders

The only things left were to trim up the hedge, knock the stakes in tight since the binders had put them under tension, and chainsaw off the tops of the posts, -oh and admire all our  fantastic traditional skills laying 15m of living hedge.

View north along bridleway before and after task

View north along bridleway before and after task

View north along footpath before and after task

View north along footpath before and after task

Thank you to everyone for all their hard work.

Ranger Stuart

About blackwatervalleycountryside

The Blackwater Valley is located on the borders of Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire and runs for approximately 30km from the source near Aldershot, northwards to Swallowfield. At its confluence it joins the rivers Whitewater and Loddon. The Loddon eventually flows into the River Thames near Reading. Work in the Blackwater Valley is co-ordinated by the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership on behalf of the local authorities that border the Valley. Despite being surrounded by urban development the Valley provides an important green corridor for local residents As well as the Blackwater Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a small part of the Basingstoke Canal SSSI, three nature reserves within the Valley catchment and many other areas have been recognised for their ecological importance. The local planning authorities covering the Valley have designated 31 other areas as ‘Wildlife Sites’.
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3 Responses to How to lay a hedge at Moor Green Lakes

  1. Pingback: Blooming Marvellous Birch Brook Hedge | blackwatervalleycountryside

  2. Pingback: Hedge-laying complete at Moor Green Lakes | blackwatervalleycountryside

  3. Pingback: Heartening Hedge-Laying | BlackwaterValleyCountryside

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