Many hedges in the UK are not in good condition, partly due to over-frequent trimming with mechanised flails. The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology compared 5 different methods of rejuvenating hedges which can be viewed on this page. The findings showed that:
- Traditional hedgerow rejuvenation methods i.e. hedge-laying and coppicing, reduce gaps and stimulates growth from the base. Denser hedges are better for perennial plants, small mammals, farmland birds and some invertebrates.
- Traditional Midland style hedge-laying was the most expensive and time consuming method tested, but it improved the hedge condition, increasing the density and reducing gap sizes.
- The conservation hedging technique yielded a hedge structure and rates of woody re-growth as good as traditional hedge-laying in improving hedge condition.
- The wildlife hedging technique resulted in a greater density of woody material than traditional hedge-laying three years after rejuvenation, with smaller gaps in the hedge base. The average hedge width was more than twice that of the traditional and conservation laid hedges.
- Re-shaping with a circular saw resulted in vigorous growth in the hedgerow canopy, but did not reduce gaps at the base or stimulate basal woody growth.
- Coppicing resulted in vigorous growth of woody stems and a dense woody structure at the base of the hedge but very few berries were produced even four years after coppicing.