A Hedge Laying Course

Yesterday I completed a two day hedge laying course, organised as part of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's River Ouse Floodplains project and run by York Wood Crafts. We had a stretch of very old hawthorn hedge to lay in the traditional 'Midland' style.

Outward facing lower branches are removed

We started by removing all the outward growing branches from the base of the hedge, leaving the tall uprights. There were various techniques for dealing with each hawthorn tree, the main one involved sawing through the trunk about a foot above ground level, leaving just enough for the tree to survive when bent over. A wedge is removed above the cut and the trunk split right down into the roots of the tree. It's then very carefully bent over, ensuring that it opens up the split down the required line and doesn't just snap off.

A laid tree still attached to its base

On the first day some of the larger trees were removed completely with a chainsaw, but on the second day we tried a different technique involving digging a huge hole around the tree to expose the roots, cutting through those at the front and back, and then pushing it over, twisting the surviving roots, before filling in the hole again. The tree I worked on was so large it took the whole group to push it over.

We dug round the roots and pushed the tree over…

… then filled in the hole

Wooden stakes are put in at roughly half metre intervals, which bind the hedge together and strengthen it. 'Midland' style is also known as 'bullock' style as it produces a hedge strong enough to keep bullocks in their field. I don't think ours would do that, but it should provide good habitat for wildlife.

A section of newly laid hedge


  1. Remember doing this on my uncle's farm in Cornwall when I was lot younger.

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