Hedge laying is an ancient craft of hedgerow management that is sadly in decline. We planted this hedgerow about five years ago. It has a mix of species, oak, ash, chestnut and birch. We decided to lay the hedge, to make it thicker. Some of the species we’ve planted may not lay well (e.g. birch), so it’s a bit of an experiment. Traditionally in Ireland, farm hedgerows are composed mainly of hawthorn, blackthorn and ash, all of which are ideal for laying.
I know this may look a bit drastic. But by laying the trees horizontal you create a good thick base. The stems of the trees are cut, but not all the way through. The idea is that the tree will grow again from the stump.
Uprights are cut and placed to keep the now horizontal stems in place.
Hopefully by the summer, this will be a mass of new leaves.
Both hedge laying and hedge coppicing are excellent ways of rejuvenating a traditional farm hedgerow that has become gappy or over-grown. More information about hedge-laying in Ireland can be found at http://www.hedgelaying.ie/index.php. In the UK there are a number of different ‘styles’ of hedge laying. Photographs can be seen on http://www.hedgelaying.org.uk/styles.htm