Hedge Craft covers the many techniques used in hedge growing, maintenance and management. Often, these techniques were developed from necessity.
Hedge Craft has, for millennia, helped man with our essential pre-occupations of food, fuel and farming. But these vital agricultural practices have slowly been adopted and adapted and are now part of our natural landscape. Today, both the countryside and our gardens display these ancient techniques for pleasure as much as practicality.
In the first series of posts on this topic, we’ll be looking at three of the most common techniques. These are the long-practised techniques of Pleaching, Pollarding and Coppicing. They are closely related but each has a specific purpose and creates a distinctive effect.
Hedge Craft: Pleaching
A method of interweaving both living and dead branches to create a hedge. Originally the hedge had a purely practical purpose either to delineate boundaries or to keep livestock in and wildlife out. But, as the centuries passed, the hedge’s aesthetic appeal became increasingly appreciated and domestically planted
Hedge Craft: Pollarding
Pollarding is a pruning system in which the upper branches of a tree are removed to promote a dense head of foliage and branches. It remains one of the main ways (especially in an urban landscape) of controlling a tree’s height. Trees planted together in a line can be pollarded to create a unique style of hedge.
Hedge Craft: Coppicing
Coppicing is also another form of pruning. A tree or shrub is cut down virtually to the ground in early spring (before the buds break) to encourage vigorous young shoots. This is usually done from the second year after planting. Although coppiced Yew, Hornbeam or Beech etc. can be found in (larger) gardens, the technique generally lives on as a means of growing wood for practical wood including charcoal manufacture.