Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: hedge cutting options.  (Read 4022 times)


  • Joined Nov 2011
hedge cutting options.
« on: September 02, 2013, 09:47:06 pm »
It's that time of year again when I hate seeing the mashed up hedges from the tractor hedge trimmer but don't really know what my alternatives are.
I've got 12 acres in 6 fields, 4 of which are steep.
One section of hedge was laid last winter and refenced, two more are due to be done this year.
Some others are in reasonable nick and one I'm leaving to grow up for future decision either to relay or leave as tallish trees.
I'd like to leave them to grow up for bird cover and fruiting and cut browse for the goats but time and shoulder strength or lack of means I probably wouldn't be able to do much more than the garden bits by hand.
My neighbour/friendly farmer who does them for me thinks they should be tractor trimmed each year to keep them tidy but I don't like the mangled mess and waste of goat/bird food.
any suggestions anyone, I'm confused trying to decide what's best to do.


  • Joined Jan 2010
    • Allt Y Coed Farm and Campsite
Re: hedge cutting options.
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2013, 12:18:34 am »
Let the goats in the field after they have cut it?

Hedge management is important - it promotes a good and study regrowth and stops things getting so tall they eithe fall over or damage the 'hedge'


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: hedge cutting options.
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2013, 01:28:23 am »
I'm with you on that dogwalker.  There are very few hedges where we live - just plain stock fencing replacing fallen drystane dykes.  So when we planted our hedges they were not initially popular, and neighbours had no idea what laying was - when we started we were asked why we were hacking our hedge down, and making such a mess of it in the process  ::)   They had to wait all winter to see that it regrew much denser than before and wasn't dead  ;D .   My OH damaged his elbow doing that first stretch with a billhook, so will do any further stretches with a battery-powered saw.
We allow our hedges destined to be laid to grow fairly tall but trim the sides.  This means that when we lay them everything stays within the hedge line making a nice straight hedge, and they don't take up too great a width.
Other hedges have remained denser so don't need to be laid and these we trim with a hedgetrimmer both up the sides and at the top, increasing the height gradually as the base fills out.  My OH has to stand on a Land Rover to reach the tops.  Many birds need hedges to be fairly tall for nesting so to my mind keeping them short and skinny with a tractor slasher doesn't benefit many species.  We also like taller hedges to block out the view of a certain neighbour's ugly bungalow  8)
We have kept a few plants as trees spaced along the hedgerows, which would be difficult to do with a tractor operation
When I was growing up in East Anglia we had lots of hedges and laying them serially was winter work for the men, also clearing the ditches as they went.  When you don't have a big workforce like that it's more difficult to keep on top of the job.
In fact I think hedges only need to be laid once they become ragged and start to thin at the bottom, which can take many years.  For most of the time they can just get an annual trim with a garden type hedge trimmer.  Admittedly our hedges only go around the outside of our 9 acres, so although it seems a daunting task it doesn't actually take all that long.  The height you cut the tops is governed by how high you can reach, and whether or not it matters if there's a bit of shade cast.  We also try to keep ours taller than our neighbours cattle can reach.  When you are intending to lay a section then you can let it grow tall enough for laying for a couple of years before you do it.
Sorry if I've been a bit waffly  :eyelashes:
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.


  • Joined Nov 2011
Re: hedge cutting options.
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2013, 08:29:19 am »
Thank you FW, so it is possible to manage them without tractor slashing.
Just a matter of how strong my elbows and shoulders are feeling and getting myself organised on a trimming system.
I think I'll tell G to slash some and leave some this year and see how I get on with just a couple to start with. 
There always seems to be more to do than the hours and energy can fit in.


  • Joined Jan 2010
    • Allt Y Coed Farm and Campsite
Re: hedge cutting options.
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2013, 02:06:26 am »
Do em a couple of times a year with a handheld otherwise its a struggle.


  • Joined Oct 2009
Re: hedge cutting options.
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2013, 09:24:29 pm »
Have you tried an "old fashioned" bar cutter instead or a flail? I've heard they were the precursor to the modern flail cutters. They give a less mangled cut and would be better for wildlife.
Hope this helps?


  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: hedge cutting options.
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2013, 09:37:38 pm »
Also if some has to be flailed they should do half or a third each year, so that the wildlife always has the other half or two thirds to eat, unless its roadside and causing a traffic hazard by forcing lorries over the centre line for eg (even then the fieldside can do the half /third thing


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