Make a pledge to look after your hedge

Make a pledge to look after your hedge

Hedgerow - Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography

Somerset is a county blessed with an extensive network of hedgerows that are a vital part of our nature recovery network. Find out more about the importance of hedgerows, how to manage hedgerows, and pledge to look after your hedge today!

Somerset is a county blessed with an extensive network of hedgerows that are a vital part of our nature recovery network.

Hedgerows are a vital resource for a myriad of plants and animals. Not only do they provide shelter and food, but they also link up sections of our countryside, creating pathways for animals to move around. Often, they have archaeologically important old banks and ditches associated with them. With nectar-rich blossom in the spring, insects buzzing in the dense thickets in summer and red berries abounding in autumn, hedgerows provide wildlife with a rich larder.

Hedgerows can also prevent soil erosion, capture pollutants such as fertilisers and pesticides running off fields, store carbon to help combat climate change, provide homes for predators of many pest species, assist in terms of flood control/water regulation, provide shelter for livestock, and more!

However, heavy or poorly timed management can negatively impact the fauna of our hedgerows and therefore the animals that rely on them. This is why properly managed hedgerows are such an important part of our landscape.

Did you know that hedgerows date back to the Bronze Age when farmers had to clear woodland to create fields, leaving strips of woodland to mark boundaries?

Where do we start?

Before you begin any management work on a hedgerow, assess what plants and animals are currently growing and living within it. This will help you work out what management might be best across your site, while avoiding disturbance to rare or protected species. Drawn on the local skills and knowledge of nearby wildlife groups as well as individuals.

Some animals, such as hazel dormice and all bat species, need a licensed person to check nest boxes and nearby roosts for their presence. If you’re unsure, contact Natural England.


WildNet - Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography

Birds nest between March and September so avoid any cutting or changes to the hedgerow during this period. Many species, ranging from dunnocks to linnets, will still be laying eggs in August, and perhaps early September.

How can we manage our hedgerows?

Maintaining established hedgerows

No trimming or cutting should be done in peak bird nesting season. Cutting should be done in winter – ideally early February – and any maintenance work should be delayed until late autumn where possible, as autumn fruits are valuable food for birds. As fruit is usually borne on last year’s growth, it is better to cut hedges every other year. Hedges cut every three years can produce two and a half times as much blossom as those cut annually. Rotational cutting can also save time and money that would be invested in annual cutting. These uncut hedges are also better for bats commuting along them.

For more information on maintaining established hedgerows, please see the further information section at the end!

Planting new hedgerows or filling gaps

Creating new hedgerows is a great way of helping wildlife. You might be planting a brand new hedge, replacing one that was removed in the past or filling in gaps where trees have died. Below are some tips on how to plant a new hedgerow.


November–March. Trees aren’t busy losing their leaves or producing buds, so they can be moved without causing harm. Avoid planting in very cold or windy weather to reduce the risk of damage to the new roots, and never plant in waterlogged or frozen soil.

For more information on planting new hedgerows, please see the further information section at the end!