Students discover the art of hedge laying

The finished product: hedge layed by MLA students

MLA students took part in a hedge laying training course at Moston Fairway Nature reserve, led by TCV (The Conservation Volunteers). Read on to find out about their experience...


Moston Fairway is designated as a Grade A Site of Biological Importance (GMEU 1981). Ann Bates, Moston Brook's Project Officer is working towards sustaining long term accessibility and community involvement in the project. The habitat management plan includes maintenance of the site as a whole and works towards involving the community in this. The site management balances the wild character of the site alongside the safety of visitors.


What a wonderful experience volunteering at Moston Nature Reserve was. In a short space of time we learnt such a lot about the importance of maintaining these hedgerows for landscape preservation and biodiversity enhancement. Hedgerows provide nesting sites, shelter and a wide range of habitats that can be home to grassland, woodland and even wetland species. Historically as the UK's forests disappeared and agricultural production grew, woodland flora and fauna found a haven in hedgerows, which mimic the woodland edge. Managing hedges by laying prolongs the life of the hedge, which is good for the species that live there.

The course introduced us to this ancient skill. Katie Lowry, TCV operations leader began by explaining the tools and how these can differ on locality, along with regional style of laying. Once familiar with the health and safety we sharpened our tools and began by observing the hedge.

The approach to hedge laying was one of careful consideration and selection. As opposed to mechanical trimming the hedge laying process requires you to encounter the hedge in a number of ways prior to laying. An appreciation for the unique character of each hedge and consideration of its growth and surrounding landform informs the way the hedge is laid. This level of care was also taken to the utilisation of brash and twigs to create habitat piles within the reserve.

Work in progress, showing upright pleachers and the hinges of light sapwood visible at the base of layed sections

The pleacher (upright section to be laid) cut from the base, is laid horizontally and bound with steaks. I was amazed how little of the hedge base was left once pleached. The hinge only needing a thin slither of sapwood, bast and cambium to live and thrive. Isn’t nature incredible!


We would like to thank Ann Bates, Moston Brook Project Officer; Adam Berry Nature Reserve Engagement Officer, The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire; and Katie Lowry TCV Operations Leader for this amazing opportunity.


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