Hedge laying is the process of cutting through the stem of a small shrub or tree near ground level, and then bending the stem without breaking it, so that it can still grow. Hedge laying was originally developed as a way of containing livestock in fields after the acts of Enclosure which in England began in the 16th century. Today hedges are laid to maintain habitat, promote traditional skills and will be a strong, living barrier which will remain stock proof for many years and can prove to be cheaper than fencing, requiring only an annual trim.
Hedges are excellent habitats for wildlife and they provide shelter for farm stock. Farmers and landowners are replanting hedgerows to conserve the British countryside and replace hedges lost through neglect. There is currently a hedgerows and boundaries grant available which is a standalone capital grant under Countryside Stewardship . Farmers and other land managers can apply for this grant to help provide environmental and landscape benefits on their land.