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Hedge laying

Our two annual competitions

The aims of the one-day competition are to promote the traditional art of hedgelaying, conservation and the opening up of country to make it more accessible to the hunt.
In addition, an on-farm competition is run, judged in the spring. Any farmer or landowner within the Belvoir country may enter a hedge. The hedge must have been laid within the last year and be a minimum of sixty yards in length.

For more details or to enter either of these competitions, please contact Tom Kingston on 01664 464144.

Why are hedges laid?

Laying hedges is just one of the techniques in managing hedgerows. Other techniques include "trimming" and "coppicing" (cutting off at ground level to encourage the hedge to regenerate). Left unmanaged, a hedgerow will continue to grow upwards and outwards and will eventually become a line of trees.
Where farmers keep cattle or sheep, a good hedge is essential, for although barbed wire fences can easily be erected, they do not provide shelter like a hedge. Hedges are also important for our wildlife and for their scenic value. A well-managed hedgerow is thick and bushy, an impenetrable barrier to sheep and cattle and a haven for wildlife.
Cattle will lean against a hedge and make gaps, whilst sheep push through the base; hedge laying prevents this. The cut stems, which are bent over at an angle, prevent the sheep pushing through the stakes driven into the hedge and the binding along the top makes the fence strong to resist the weight of cattle.
Laying the hedge also tidies it up and encourages the shrubs to regenerate keeping the hedge bushy and healthy. Once a hedge has been laid, regular trimming will keep it in good order for up to fifty years when it may be appropriate to lay the hedge again, or even coppice it.

Why are there different styles?

There are different styles of hedge laying in different parts of the UK. Each style has been developed over many years to cope with the climate of the area, different farming practices and the type of trees and shrubs that grow in the hedge. There are more than thirty styles recorded in the UK plus others in France, Germany and Holland.