A recent report by ecologists from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology at Monk's Wood in Cambridgeshire has suggested that by cutting hedgerows less frequently, farmers can save money and protect our wildlife.
During the autumn each year, thousands of kilometres of hedgerow is cut using tractors with a 'flail' attachment. Before machinery like this was available, hedge trimming work was done by hand. As a result of the large amount of labour required, hedges were only cut every few years.
Hedges that are left uncut provide a bounty for birds and mammals in the shape of nuts, berries and flowers, as well as the perfect place for them to shelter and reproduce.
However, a balance needs to be struck between letting hedges grow and cutting to maintain them in good condition. If they are left to grow for too long, the plants will begin to turn into trees and the effectiveness of the hedge to perform its function - as a barrier - will be compromised.
It seems that this balance can be achieved by cutting every three years, allowing our wildlife to fatten themselves for the winter on a plentiful supply of berries. The report showed that yields of berries from uncut hedges was up to 50 times that of hedges that were trimmed annually. So, to help protect and enhance our local biodiversity and save money at the same time, cut your hedges less!!
Remember - please don't trim your hedge during the bird nesting season - you could be breaking the law.