Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
posted 5 years ago
I think that hedgerows are an excellent means of establishing perimeter fencing, and paddock delineation.
It is a slow (at nature's pace) way to fence a property with minimal imports, and associated costs.
"Hedge laying", on the other hand is extremely labor intensive to get it established.
It is a throw back to an era when 'unskilled' farm labor was cheap and plentiful.
Trying to duplicate it today, it could be difficult and expensive.
Enough labor (at minimum wages) could easily cost you more than having professional fencers com in and install a first rate traditional fence. A traditional fence will need some repairs every decade or so, but likewise, a laid hedge/hedgerow also requires periodic maintenance. (No posts and wires, but plenty of labor.)
Laid hedges and hedgerows both have the added benefit of improving soil quality, and helping to provide a balance of beneficial fauna to the landscape. Posts and wires offer no benefit, other than delineating areas.
Aye, we're re-establishing hedges on our smallholding and we've laid existing hedges of the appropriate age/height over the past three years or so. We don't have much in the way of livestock so the purpose of our hedges is to:
Remove the need for fencing (materials, labour and cost);
If we had livestock, hedges would also provide shelter and shade for them. In places where wind erosion is an issue then I imagine that hedges could help to alleviate it in a similar fashion to shelter belts albeit in a lesser fashion due to less height. John is right in saying that hedge laying can be labour intensive; I find it a preferable form of labour when compared to putting up fences though.
Although none of my family are particularly expert at hedge laying, it's something that we all get a great deal of enjoyment from. I'd upload a picture of one of our hedges but you're better off looking at examples on the internet! We've been contending with poorly maintained hedges and trees the past few years but, once our new hedges become established and old hedges grow into better form, the process of hedge laying should become quicker and easier and the result much prettier!
Edit to add: The best guide to hedge laying that we own is a a decades old BTCV handbook on the subject. I doubt it ever got published in the USA but you might be able to pick up a second hand copy online, or a new handbook from The Conservation Volunteers (formerly the BTCV).
"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."
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