Paul Blissett Hedgelaying

30 years hedgelaying in Bucks, Beds & Herts
The first and largest hedgelaying website

Bedfordshire hedgelaying training course, 3rd/4th February 2024

Introduction

Having tutored two hedgelaying courses for the Greensand Trust at their Sandy Smith Nature Reserve near Clophill in Bedfordshire in 2022, I am pleased to announce another course scheduled there for the weekend 3rd/4th February 2024 with a fallback date of 10th/11th February in the event of severe weather the first weekend, so those interested should keep both weekends free in their diaries just in case.

With no shortage of layable hedge, we hope to make this an annual event.

More about the course

Finding suitable hedges and sites for people to learn hedgelaying can be difficult, but 2.5 kilometres of mixed native species, double staggered row hedge with a preponderance of hawthorn, planted by the Greensand Trust at this site is now becoming ready to lay and is perfect to learn on.

The Trust hopes to lay 200 metres or more per year, ideally with a mix of courses for the public and work by their local volunteers, and a good start was made in 2022.

You can see what is involved further down. Courses for the public are expected to involve between 10 and 14 participants and will run over a weekend. Participants will usually work in pairs so they can help each other as they go and to give their arms and wrists a rest.

Unusually for a hedgelaying course, you will get the chance to lay two different styles of hedge - firstly South of England which is expected to take most of the time and then Crop & Pleach using live stakes.

The cost of the two-day course is £150 including:

  • Health and safety instruction
  • Theory, demonstration and instruction from a professional hedgelayer with over 30 years experience
  • The Greensand Trust ranger responsible for the site will give an overview of the site and be around to assist and advise throughout
  • The chance to see how hedges laid over the last two seasons have grown
  • Provision of all the hand tools required to lay the hedge
  • Provision of sturdy glove and goggles for eye protection
  • Provision of hard hats
  • The stakes and binders necessary to lay South of England style hedge
  • The Greensand Trust have been known to bribe participants with doughnuts or similar

 

Click here to book the February Clophill hedgelaying course on the Greensand Trust website

Annotated images from the 2022 courses...

  • November 2022 weekend hedgelaying course

    Please note that the section of hedge laid South of England on the first two courses was a much more mixed hedge (with arguably too little hawthorn) than the other sections of hedge on this site so expect much more hawthorn - as shown in the Crop & Pleach sections.

 

Start of hedge before...
 

..and after. I had laid the completed section to the left previously to get the hedge started and so course participants could see what we were aiming for
 

Beyond my section, the course participants are making good progress
 

It usually works best with participants working in pairs, so they can take turns, assist each other and are not strung out too far along the hedge to keep an eye on.
 

A number of trees were left to grow on as standards, mostly field maple, the trunks marked with spray paint so they didn't end up laid into the hedge
 

Joining sections is always awkward where people work together on a hedge. Each pair has to be able to progress their own section without making it too difficult for the previous section to be completed. Here this has been achieved by supporting the start of the next section on a prop. This will allow it to be laid onto the section on the left without having to pick it all up.
 

The section of hedge being laid was on the way to the reserve car park and opposite a number of houses on the other side of the road, so the emphasis was on quality, not quantity. Here laid sections are being tidied up..
 

...and here the tops are being cut off at an angle the same height above the binders
 

Participants troop round for their group photograph...
 

...all smiles and understandably very pleased with the standard of their work
 

After lunch on the Sunday participants put in a couple of hours laying this section crop and pleach...
 

...which ended up looking like this...
 

...same view looking back the other way. The hedge is secured with live stakes running alternately each side and very strong as a result.
 

  • December 2022 two-day midweek course

    A large group of local volunteers completed the remaining 70 metres of the 114 metres South of England section started he previous month. They were sufficiently enthused to meet monthly thereafter to continue the hedgelaying to a very good standard.

 

Carrying on with the hedge started previously
 

...cutting the tops off the stakes
 

South of England hedges are bushy both sides
 

Looking down the hedge...
 

...looking up the hedge
 

Putting on the last of the binders
 

This 114 metre section complete
 

Continuing the crop and pleach section...
 

...where a very good impression was made too
 

Joining two sections of hedge
 

...practical, inexpensive, sturdy and permitting rapid progress, with two and a half kilometres of it to lay, crop and pleach is the predominant style being used at Sandy Smith