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building a dead hedge

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building a dead hedge

Postby smojo » Mon Oct 20, 2014 6:01 pm

Following on from the deer deterrent topic I'd like some tips on dead hedging. The area I want to protect first has a boundary with a ride. When I get my thinning licence and start felling and coppicing, there will be quite a lot of brash. So I'm thinking it would be nice to build a dead hedge along the edge I want to protect. It will give me a more interesting border and place for wildlife, use a lot of the brash and could extend the size of the area I can protect with a 100m roll of netting.

First question - would it actually stop deer and what would be the miminum height required for Roe ? - I guess about 1.5m

Second - if using fresh cut sycamore and hazel for the posts (thats' mostly what I'll have) - how long will they hold up before rotting and letting the hedge down ?

Any tips on building one please?

Dexter I saw your vid on one you watched being built in your wood ;) How is it fairing ?
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Re: building a dead hedge

Postby Bearwood » Mon Oct 20, 2014 6:24 pm

I'd encourage anyone to build a dead hedge, the benefits are multiple, despite the hard work.

The dead hedges we've built in our wood are only 3 ft high, but we have no deer to contend with and are there for aesthetic and use of snedds/cuttings.

In my experience, anything more than 4 ft is going to need some substantial posts to give it strength. You could look at bracing each post with a strut at 45° to the post, and perpendicular to the fence run, as you would with wire stock proof fencing. When done correctly, a dead hedge does have quite significant intrinsic strength due to the woven branches, but having never built one to 1.5m, I can't say if the strength will be enough for your needs.

If you were going to the hassle of installing posts to support such a high fence, I'd personally put a wire one in and build a dead hedge or brash mound to mask it.

Hazel only lasts <5 years in the ground, not too sure about sycamore though. I understand that high tannin woods such as Sweet Chestnut and Oak are best.
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Re: building a dead hedge

Postby Dexter's Shed » Mon Oct 20, 2014 6:49 pm

yup ours is still looking good, although should be topped up yearly as they rot down, we will be starting more soon as it's a good job to do in the wetter months, having a clay soil it gets too hard in the summer to drive the uprights in fully, if we can, I'd prefer to do all our boundaries that need it as dead hedge, looks so much better in my eyes than sheep fencing,
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Re: building a dead hedge

Postby Dexter's Shed » Mon Oct 20, 2014 6:54 pm

for anyone that didn't see the build

http://youtu.be/664QwVLv6qQ?list=UUTGz0 ... xsC3TP2eeg
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Re: building a dead hedge

Postby smojo » Tue Oct 21, 2014 7:42 am

Yes I'm really liking the idea. I have seen what appears to be two different methods. One has two parallel rows of posts and the brash is just more or less dropped or pushed in between them. Sometimes they have used some hazel to weave loose cross members between the posts to help hold the dead wood in. I was thinking for ease and using less posts it might be OK just to put single posts in and weave the branches between them like a wattle fence. What do you think? I don't think I need the dead hedge to last forever as I'm not intending doing the whole borders. I was thinking it would provide one edge to a rectangular area that I want to keep deer out of. The other three sides being provided with netting. I want the area, which is pretty bare, to be allowed to regenerate it's groundcover and also protect new plantings of coppice species that I plan to grow. After a few years, hopefully, the new stuff will have outgrown the deer.
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Re: building a dead hedge

Postby Dexter's Shed » Tue Oct 21, 2014 9:46 am

the downside with your single post row idea, is that unless your going to build it like a proper woven fence, where the weave is doubled back on itself to give the fence it's strength, and as you'll be using whole branches rather than split, your fence will be a bit flimsy and easy to push between, the whole point of the dead hedge is that by just adding the brash, your making a wall that's perhaps 12",15", or thicker, very hard to push through or get blown over by the wind
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Re: building a dead hedge

Postby SimonFisher » Tue Oct 21, 2014 10:08 am

smojo wrote:I was thinking for ease and using less posts it might be OK just to put single posts in and weave the branches between them like a wattle fence. What do you think?

I don't think you'll find it as easy to work with. Try it and let us know how you get on?

I did a bit of dead hedging last winter while thinning some young oaks. Much of the brash that came off them was at one end a single thickenss of branch of maybe 30-40mm but at the other end was all of the smaller bits growing off it, multiple branches all getting thinner towards the tips. It was fairly straightforward to pull the whole piece through my double row of posts such that they concentrated the smaller branches down into a thick mass. I found I could at that point make a few choice cuts with the chainsaw to allow the hedge to drop closer to the ground.
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Re: building a dead hedge

Postby smojo » Tue Oct 21, 2014 11:59 am

I think you convinced me guys - a double row of posts. Although it is primarily to help keep deer out, it would be a nice addition to keep for the long term as it would give me some sort of definite edge to the plot where it meets the ride. Psychologically and visually creating more of a barrier to the outside.

There is a dead tree that looks like oak. Not all that large but maybe about 8 inch dia. I know oak is pretty rot resistant. I'm wondering how difficult it would be to cut some 6 foot lengths then tried to cleave them lengthways into 4 to make longer lasting posts. If I can achieve that I could alternate the posts with those and some hefty hazel which will be available by then. Don't want to have to buy any posts - good grief!
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Re: building a dead hedge

Postby SimonFisher » Tue Oct 21, 2014 12:49 pm

smojo wrote:There is a dead tree that looks like oak. Not all that large but maybe about 8 inch dia. I know oak is pretty rot resistant. I'm wondering how difficult it would be to cut some 6 foot lengths then tried to cleave them lengthways into 4 to make longer lasting posts

I've split freshly felled oak (so I can leave it in long lengths but open it up to aid seasoning) by making a notch in one end with a chainsaw, then using a pair of splitting wedges and a sledgehammer get a split going which will run along the length. The chainsaw-cut notch is easier than driving the wedge in to get started.
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