ALL HEDGES will need to be trimmed and kept under control at some point during the season, but when is the best time to do so?
The general rule is to cut hedgerows in late winter when the plants are dormant and haven’t produced buds. This is particularly crucial if you are cutting back drastically. It will take much longer for the hedge to fill out and catch up if it is cut back too early. It also gives the wildlife all the time they need to take advantage of the nuts and berries produced by hedge plants in the autumn. The breading and nesting season — 1 March-31 July — should be avoided. Most tree and shrub flowers are produced on one-year-old twigs, so cutting at the wrong time of year can remove these before there has been chance for regrowth, resulting in no flowers, no berries and no nuts. This has a big impact, not only on the health of the hedgerow itself, but on the wide variety of wildlife that rely on the shelter, food and safety elements provided by these complex ecosystems.
Hedgerows are extremely important for local wildlife, but they are also functional, marking boundaries, keeping animals in or out of fields, assisting in flood control erosion, climate regulation, screening and noise reduction. With good growing conditions, hedgerows quickly spread in size. Good hedgerow management prevents them growing out into fields and reducing the land available for cropping and grazing. They are cut to keep them healthy, thick and bushy. Regular cutting also prevents the shading and loss of low-growing plants, such as violets and primroses.
So, what is the best way to tackle these fast-growing hedgerows? The invention of the tractor-mounted side-arm flail cutter 50 or so years ago revolutionised how hedgerows are maintained and it continues to be a popular method for landowners and local authorities alike. There are numerous types of tractor-mounted hedge trimmers on the market, the most common of which is the flail head. Flail hedge cutters save time and effort when maintaining long lengths of hedges. They use a hanging blade which rotates rapidly on a vertical plain, cutting and mulching woody growth successfully. It is important that flails are kept in good condition and that the correct rotation and forward speeds are maintained so that thicker branches are not left ragged, bruised or with open wounds. Raising the cutting height by 10cm each time a cut is made will help.
The ideal equipment
Siromer hedge cutters are a popular choice and there are different designs to ensure the cut you require. All Siromer hedge trimmers have their own hydraulic tank so that there is no need to be concerned about the tractor’s hydraulic capacity as the hedge trimmer runs off the PTO at 540rpm.
The Finger Bar Hedge Trimmer (F60) is the lightest option. It has a reach of 3.9m; it can cut the top off a 2.5m hedge and it comes complete with a 1.9m head.
The Siromer U44 is suitable for compact (24h-plus) tractors. A unique feature is the interchangeable flail and finger bar head. The finger bar head is 130cm and there is an option of an 80cm or 100cm flail head. A great little machine with a 2.5m cutting height and reversable flail direction, it costs £ 3,850 (+VAT).
For more information on Siromer hedge trimmers, tel: 01253 799029.
Siromer sells a range of hedge trimmers to keep smallholding boundaries tidy