Hedge Laying Community Event

In January 2023, Swords Tidy Towns volunteers took part in their first event of the new year – hedge laying community event. We thank you Mark McDowell from the Hedge Laying Association of Ireland for a fantastic hands-on workshop. It was very informative and enjoyable.

Deborah Tiernan, the Biodiversity Officer at Fingal County Council explains the background to this project:

“The development of hedgerow management guidance for Fingal is a specific action within the FCC Biodiversity Plan. Fingal are currently in the process of mapping the location and condition of all valuable hedgerows on public lands within the Fingal area. During the consultation process for the local town biodiversity plans which were prepared in consultation with the local tidy towns groups, one of the main emerging issues and concerns related to the loss of the historic hedgerows in the north county Dublin area. Many of the remnants of these hedgerows remain within the open spaces of residential areas. The towns of Swords, Balbriggan and Skerries were chosen to launch the first phase of the countywide hedgerow project.

The first phase of this project involved a series of community hedge laying events in the towns of Swords, Balbriggan and Skerries. Each community hedge laying day involves the practical demonstration of how to lay a hedge and the importance of proper hedgerow management that allows a hedge to flower, produce berries/seeds, provide habitat and shelter for birds and particularly pollinating insects.

Demonstration hedgerows were chosen in each of the three towns on open spaces where a community could gather and watch in an outdoor classroom setting. The Hedge laying Association of Ireland were engaged to carry out this series of community training days to demonstrate how to lay a hedge correctly and the associated biodiversity benefits of proper hedgerow management.  The locations chosen offer real opportunity for children and adults alike to witness the changing of the seasons as the hedge buds, flowers, and dies back over winter within a dynamic urban residential setting.

In Swords this event was organised by the FCC Biodiversity Team in consultation with Swords Tidy Towns and Swords Woodland Association. A veteran hedge between Glen Ellen and Sandford Wood Estate was chosen that would respond well to a rejuvenation process. The Hedge Laying Association of Ireland advised and supervised all the works on site, which involved the volunteers manually removing of litter, the removal of dense ivy growth which was shading the whitethorn, removal of brambles and the removal of dead and decaying wood from within the hedge. The process of laying a hedge then required the bending of living branches and weaving these branches within the hedge. The bending process involves cutting into the trunk which rejuvenates the new growth that will emerge in the spring. Please see www.hedgelaying.ie for more information on this process.”

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