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Jamanda

Flailing hedges

I hate it. But I need some facts and figures to back up why it isn't a good idea. I'm going to start by searching the lepidoptera sites, but any other data would be gratefully received and used.
RichardW

Sure I read some place that even though it looks really bad that it actually encourages growth & makes the hedge stronger & is better than cutting with a sharp pair of secateurs or hedge cutters.

I did a google for

flail hedge cutting good or bad


Came up with a few good links
Jamanda

These hedges are not field boundaries that contain stock. In fact, they are more wood edges than hedges. I want to remove individual trees to open up the woodland at the edge of the paths. The trees in question are mostly blackthorn and really are quite vigorous!

I will get photos to explain.
frewen

Brown hairstreak - Page 3 ? any good?
Jamanda

Brown hairstreak - Page 3 ? any good?


Should there be a link? We have brown hairstreaks.
frewen

Gah - try again Frewen

2008 so not totally up to date but ...

http://www.southwales-butterflies.org.uk/_newsletters/BCSWNewsletterSpring2008.pdf
Jamanda

That is ideal! Thank you very much Very Happy
Nicky Colour it green

is it the method then.. or the fact it is cut at all ...that you object to?
Jamanda

The method. The fact that it is so destructive of the local insect populations. (and the fact that it looks like a war zone.)

Not saying nothing needs doing, but thinning, coppicing, proper hedge laying would be my methods of choice.
Lorrainelovesplants

We had ours done 2 years ago - it was carnage. I was horrified.

Now it has thickened up and looks lovely again.
On reflection, it did need it, but I had to sit in the other side of the house, and cried when they did it.
RichardW

Get a quote in for both methods.

Then you will see one of the reasons why they use a flail. It might look brutal but it is a tried & tested method that works if done properly.
Nicky Colour it green

The method. The fact that it is so destructive of the local insect populations. (and the fact that it looks like a war zone.)

Not saying nothing needs doing, but thinning, coppicing, proper hedge laying would be my methods of choice.

I think the impact on nature is the same however it is done?

I also prefer a hedge to be done the old way, and that's what we are doing to our own hedges.. but believe me it is time consuming. who owns the hedge you are concerned about?

IMO it is much better to cut a hedge mechanically than to neglect them altogether. A neglected hedge eventually means no hedge.. and that has a negative result for nature.
tahir

IMO it is much better to cut a hedge mechanically than to neglect them altogether. A neglected hedge eventually means no hedge.. and that has a negative result for nature.

Yup, and in most cases that means a flail because the clippings are pretty much mulched. We've invested in a cutter because we don't have to worry about loose branches lying around
Jamanda

Get a quote in for both methods.

Then you will see one of the reasons why they use a flail. It might look brutal but it is a tried & tested method that works if done properly.

The traditional method would cost nothing but time. But it won't be my time which is why I need some good ecological arguments. Aesthetic grounds will help too. The flailing would have to be done by a contractor.
Jamanda


but believe me it is time consuming. who owns the hedge you are concerned about?



I know it's time consuming, I've done plenty myself in the past. I am a trustee for the land involved.

This is one of the areas under discussion.


RichardW



The traditional method would cost nothing but time.




Ah time the most expensive thing in the universe.
sean

Quite an important issue here is that despite the original question and thread title none of the areas in question are actually hedges. Treacodactyl

What's the question again?

It sounds like you're asking about woodland ride management, where you cut back small sections at various intervals to provide a good mix of habitat. You certainly wouldn't flail a large section at a time. There should be a fair amount of information about that, especially about butterflies etc.
Jamanda

What's the question again?

It sounds like you're asking about woodland ride management, where you cut back small sections at various intervals to provide a good mix of habitat. You certainly wouldn't flail a large section at a time. There should be a fair amount of information about that, especially about butterflies etc.

That's what I want to do Treac. I need to convince the bloke who wants to pay a contractor to flail about 20 miles of path edging next week it's not a good idea.
Treacodactyl

There should be loads of stuff on the Forestry Comission, the first that came up when I googled was this pdf which at first glance is a good explanation. I'm sure you could dig up studies that would prove your case. tahir

You could also post on the UKTC forum where you'd get plenty of opinion and hopefully some facts thrown in too:

http://www.tree-care.info/uktc
Treacodactyl

Are these any good, a quick scan through them might be useful? Also posting so I can read them later. Laughing

www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/RIN126.pdf/$FILE/RIN126.pdf

Shorterified
Rob R

What kind of diameter are we talking about? Flails are OK for small stuff but anything more than a couple of inch makes a real mess. Colin & Jan

What really gets me is flailing hedges at this time of year when the berries are just ripening for the birds. We should introduce legislation to say that hedges/verges can only be flailed in Jan/Feb.

Mind you the local large farming conglomerate was flailing hedges and set-aside margins in Jun this year. Guardians of the countryside my ar*e.
JB

In principle locally the hedges do get trimmed in Jan / Feb but talking to the guys who do the job it seems that it's a problem of staff and time. Often the council is too busy in January and February dealing with gritting roads and pavements to worry about hedge trimming then so it becomes a case of whenever staff and kit is available (obviously the flails are available pretty much all the year but the tractors are often busy on other jobs) Hence it ends up being done whenever. Rob R

There are also only so many days when you can get onto the land between crops, and only so many frosty days in Jan/Feb. If we want more sympathetic management then we need to pay a damn sight more for our food. Treacodactyl

It's not just a question about flailing but cutting a whole section. Looking through the links I posted, and probably any text on ride management, will show that continuous cutting is bad as you don't end up with sections of different aged habitat so wildlife can't easily move about. This will lead to a mush less diverse range of creatures. I can't really find anything that suggests flailing in itself is bad, just as long as only some sections are cut back each year and the majority of the edges left. That might make in uneconomical to flail of course... RichardW

Looking through the links I posted, and probably any text on ride management, will show that continuous cutting is bad as you don't end up with sections of different aged habitat so wildlife can't easily move about. This will lead to a mush less diverse range of creatures. I can't really find anything that suggests flailing in itself is bad, just as long as only some sections are cut back each year and the majority of the edges left. That might make in uneconomical to flail of course...

You could start at one end doing a hard cut & work down to just a light trim at the other then in the following years you can hard cut a different section at a time.

For every link confirming its a bad thing to do you will find one saying its ok.

Would not want to be on the volunteer work party that has got 20miles to do by hand. If your going to make them hand cut it you should really be there for every yard.
gz

Another aspect of flailing is punctures Sad Treacodactyl

You could start at one end doing a hard cut & work down to just a light trim at the other then in the following years you can hard cut a different section at a time.

That would be almost as bad as cutting the whole lot, you want a mix of habitats.

As you'd only cut part of the area each year you would only be cutting a few miles, not 20. Still a fair bit of work though. If the paths are overgrown perhaps the best solution is to trim the whole area with a fail and then plan to cut by hand.
Tavascarow

Another aspect of flailing is punctures Sad Indeed.
& now the responsibility for verge maintenance is with the landowner not the council or highways dept a pain to get any compensation.
Rob R

Two years in five is the recommended frequency by Natural England. Nicky Colour it green

so is it a hedge then? or is it just a matter of cutting back a woodland to keep the path clear? If it is, or used to be a hedge, it ought to be maintained as such.

all the arguments re nature are about timing, and how much is done at once, not, as far as I can see the actual method.

Down here in Devon, the real window, between leaves falling and the buds forming/birds nesting is very short.
judith

Another aspect of flailing is punctures Sad Indeed.
& now the responsibility for verge maintenance is with the landowner not the council or highways dept a pain to get any compensation.

Yes indeed Mad . Particularly when you are talking about blackthorn.
Jamanda

There's no cars or bikes allowed on the area in question, but thorns and dog paws might actually be an argument that would work! TTouch Homestead

Another aspect of flailing is punctures Sad Indeed.
& now the responsibility for verge maintenance is with the landowner not the council or highways dept a pain to get any compensation.

Yes indeed Mad . Particularly when you are talking about blackthorn.
Yep, agree, my dad had a puncturer last visit to us, just after the flail had done the hedge opposite ours. We spent last winter, chopping, and laying our boundary hedge, and this winter will be doing the same again on another section. I also have been growing cuttings and seedlings on that I took at the time to plant back in!
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