Building a Dead Hedge

imageWe have been tidying up in our large and much neglected garden recently, part of my February spring clean perhaps. Part of this has meant curtailing the growth of our buddleia and fuchsia hedging and as you can probably guess, we have been left with a large amount of hedge offcuts in need of a home. We have a multi fuel stove and so larger offcuts have been trimmed and stored to dry out for later use as have small sticks for kindling but this still left a lot remaining.

As luck would have it, in the Sunday Times the other weekend was an article on how to make a ‘dead hedge’ and this had immediately captured our attention. Our garden is ‘neglected’ because we like it to look natural and to provide a habitat for wildlife if we can. On top of this I am always very reluctant to do any serious tidying up without working with the agreement of the spirits of the plants, however sometimes there does come a point where tidying just has to happen. What a ‘dead hedge’ does is provide a place where trimmed hedges can be laid out in such a way as to become, as they decay and die back, a habitat for wildlife. What wonderful recycling!

Stakes or poles are pushed into the soil in a line around 2ft apart, a second line of stakes is pushed in around 2ft from and parallel to the first. Offcuts of the trimmed hedges are then laid between the stakes. The bottom few layers are trodden down to compress them as much as possible so that they compress and can die back into the earth. In time the hedge will pack down so new layers can be added.

The buddleia hedging which had been neglected for several years looked too thick to make the ‘dead hedge’ but the thinner whippier fuchsia was perfect and so the ‘dead hedge’ in our garden has begun to take form. It is only a short length at present as it seemed sensible to try on a relatively small scale first and see how it worked, but we can add to it over time. The photo shows how it looked as we began to build it.

I for one am looking forward to observing the changes in the ‘dead hedge’ as the seasons come and go, to watching the lower layers begin to decay and to seeing what wildlife is attracted to make its home there.

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3 thoughts on “Building a Dead Hedge

  1. Your dead hedge lives on in that animals that use it! I sometimes contemplate that cycle of death and decay and how it gives rise to new creative potential and I find it comforting. May your hedge bring you much fruitful contemplation on the wonders of nature!

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