03 Oct 2022

Kilkenny has two types of hedges - learn how to manage them during Hedgerow Week

Hedge cutting season opens on September 1


A roadside hedgerow

‘Best Practice hedge cutting for our two hedge types’ is the theme for Teagasc Hedgerow Week 2022, launched by Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett on the weekly Teagasc Signpost webinar.

Hedgerow Week takes place from Friday, 26 August to Friday, 2 September, in time with the opening of the hedge cutting season on 1 September.

Hedgerow exhibits will be on display at the Iverk Show, Piltown, County Kilkenny on Saturday, 27 August; Teagasc Johnstown Castle Open Day in Wexford on Tuesday, 30 August and at Gurteen College in Tipperary on Thursday, 1 September. A walk and talk on the Hedgerows of Kilkenny City will take place on Wednesday, 31 August, in association with Nore Vision and The Heritage Council.

Catherine Keena, Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist, said that hedgerow management is becoming increasingly important because of the role of hedges in improving biodiversity and capturing carbon and because of the poor condition of many hedges. The key message is that there are two types of hedges and each type has different biodiversity values and each type needs different management.

Firstly, Escaped hedges (Never topped / Treeline / Linear woodland), which has huge biodiversity value in the canopy while thin at the base, where Best Practice Management is to side trim only and never top. 

Secondly, Topped hedges haves huge biodiversity value in the dense base for nesting birds and cover for small mammals and can still have some of the canopy biodiversity when occasional thorn saplings are allowed grow up and mature as flowering and fruiting thorn trees. Best Practice Management for topped hedges is to side trim from a wide base to a triangular shape leaving the peak as high as possible – but at least 1.5 metres above ground level or top of bank (if present), and retain occasional thorn saplings to mature as thorn trees. 

Teagasc recommendation is that every farm should have a proportion of Escaped hedges and Topped hedges. Catherine Keena said: “I prefer cutting little and often, rather than every three years, provided the above advice is followed. Failure to distinguish between these has led to confusion and inappropriate management of both types.”

Francis Quigley, Teagasc Machinery Specialist encouraged all hedge cutting contractors to attend the event in Gurteen College, where there will be three live demonstrations on the coppicing of ‘upside down toilet brush’ hedges; retaining thorn saplings in a Topped hedge when hedge cutting; and using compostable film to develop a dense base on new hedges.

Bringing an international perspective to hedgerows, Dr. Françoise Burel, Université de Rennes in France will present on the weekly Teagasc Signpost webinar on Friday 2 September.  For more details, see hedgerowweek

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