Local horse riders are doing their bit for hedgerows! A long, new, field-edge hedge-line is being established in Ramsey Mereside to replace an old fence, whilst in Wimblington, the gaps in an old hedge where conifer trees were removed are being re-filled.
Like CPRE, the British Horse Society recognises the importance of hedgerows for both horses and the environment in their magazine British Horse…:
We interviewed Hazel and Alan Beecroft in Ramsey Mereside on their decision and the effort involved in making their new hedgerow and asked them:
We inherited an existing wooden post and rail fence and had to replace some posts because they were reaching end of life and also slipping into the ditch that runs along our boundary. We decided that we would like to replace the entire fence with a hedge which will be cost effective in the long run. It should only require cutting to maintain. It will also create a natural wildlife corridor and it adds more trees to our property. We care about being sustainable and environmentally friendly. We think a hedge will be more aesthetically pleasing and the horses will also enjoy a nibble but be safe and secure.
The hedge is an equine friendly native country hedge mix containing species such as hawthorn and quick-thorn. We lightly rotavated the soil to make planting easier. We used bamboo canes to secure the trees and perforated sleeves to ensure they are not eaten by wildlife before they establish. They have been fertilised upon planting. We laid a ‘Terram’ sheet below to protect from weeds. We have had to use electric tape to create a temporary inner fence until the hedge is thick enough to keep horses safe, at which point we will remove the temporary fence.
The hedge is intended to act as the permanent perimeter fence for a grazing paddock for horses. Behind the hedge is a shallow ditch and a farmer’s field.
There are multiple benefits! A natural barrier for the horses is aesthetically appealing. The hedge will provide a wildlife corridor and add more trees to our property. We have occasionally had flooding in our paddock, the hedge roots will help to absorb any excess water. The roots should anchor the hedge more securely to the side of the ditch than the wooden posts could and prevent slippage of material into the ditch. Finally, since we sit on the edge of an open fen, the hedge should provide a wind break for the paddock (and stop hay and feed bowls blowing away!).
Go for it! Although the hedge does need time to establish (a few years to reach the desired height), after the initial planting effort which took 2 people 2 days to plant 110m (a staggered double row), there is only cutting required to keep it at the correct height. We believe it will be cheaper and easier to maintain in the long term than a wooden fence. We hope there is a low fail rate on the plants but are prepared to replace any that may fail.
The Ramsey Mereside field that is being treated to the new hedgerow is pictured below…
Before the new hedgerow could be established, the broken-down old fence that is being replaced was fenced off with electric tape before it was removed…
The new hedgerow is being established!
The new hedgerow close-up:
At the same time, work on filling in an already-established hedgerow in another horse field in Wimblington is ongoing – the hedgerow did look like this, with its large gaps…
Proof of work being done - the new hedging plants are being plugged into the gaps:
The Happy Hedgerow by Elena Mannion is a book for children about hedgerows, which CPRE the Countryside Charity has championed to members – it is a beautiful book full of information about different species of wildlife:
CPRE vice president Sir Andrew Motion has called the book ‘a welcome reminder that hedgerows are our greatest nature reserves’ and feels it ‘will encourage children to engage with the rich variety of life on their doorsteps’. It would make the perfect gift for young nature lovers aged four and up. --Countryside Voices (CPRE The countryside charity) summer 2021