How to Rewild

Scallop Your Hedges

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Scallop Your Hedges

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What You Can Do

Typical hedgerows are tall, straight and neatly clipped, but each of these things reduces their value for biodiversity. Dense scrub – the closest natural habitat to a hedgerow – is clumpy, with messy edges and shallow sloping sides in many cases.

Typical hedgerows are tall, straight and neatly clipped, but each of these things reduces their value for biodiversity. Dense scrub – the closest natural habitat to a hedgerow – is clumpy, with messy edges and shallow sloping sides in many cases.

What is Scalloping

If you have a wide hedgerow, you can add diversity to it by ‘scalloping’ the sides – taking crescent-shaped chunks out of the vegetation at intervals. This creates variability in humidity, wind protection, sunlight exposure and shade along the length of the hedge. If you don’t have a wide-enough hedge to do this, then planting can be used to ‘build-out’ the edge into a more uneven, wavier line.

Traditional Hedge-Laying

Cutting into the hedge can be coupled to hedge-laying – a traditional technique which is effective in native hedgerows and restores the health and density of the vegetation. Trunks are 90% sliced through on one side at the base and folded down at a slight angle (the sap must travel ‘uphill’). Then, the trunk is pinned in place, or woven into the fabric of other branches. Over time, side shoots will turn into vertical shoots in a new, denser hedgerow. Different areas have different styles of hedgelaying, and even different styles of tool – this is a rabbit hole worth exploring!

Example

We’ve found that scalloping the hedges on our pilot project has created pockets of still air, which tend to be home to dense clouds of flying insects on summer evenings. These attract birds and bats, benefiting the overall abundance and diversity of the system. During the day, these areas are often a pleasant place to rest, sheltered from wind and/or sunlight.

Scalloped hedge
An ideal hedgerow has a wavy edge, a diverse community of plants, emergent trees in places, and a sloping profile.

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