GETTING STARTED 2 - Try getting started this way (for the absolute beginner)
by Walter Lloyd
Contributed September 1997
1. Take a course in Hedgelaying.
The Agricultural Training Board (ATB) and the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) run these, as do other people. You will need a small axe, a bill hook, and a bow saw - preferably the sort that slopes to the forward end, as well as industrial-type leather gloves or hedging gloves, strong boots ( wellies with steel toe caps are fine), and old clothes that can stand getting torn.
When you have learnt what to do ....
2. Find the friendly owner of a bit of neglected woodland that has a very neglected boundary hedge (there are lots of neglected woodlands and lots of owners, some of these MUST be friendly?), and persuade the owner to let you practice your newly acquired skills on that boundary hedge free of charge! YOU need the experience, and the owner needs the work doing but probably cant afford to pay you - fair do? (BUT there are grants available for hedge laying, if one of you can handle the paperwork) While you are working on the hedge, you can accumulate lots of- pea sticks - bean poles - clothes props - walking sticks and shanks- stakes and ethering rods hurdle rods - net pegs - faggots -all of which are saleable and will get you into the way of finding a market for coppice material
REMEMBER - anything you do to the hedge is going to help revitalise it, and even if not a perfect job this time, it will be all the easier to lay properly next time.
3. When you have demonstrated that you can do a workmanlike job, you can advertise your services as a hedge layer, AND you can approach that woodland owner to see if you can do a deal for the coppice,- loads of firewood delivered free, perhaps, plus a regenerated wood that will be worth something at the next cut in so many years time, plus improved pheasant cover that can be let for real money. It may help if you take some photos of before and after laying a very neglected hedge to convince the owner of the benefits of even unskilled hedge laying; also that VERY overgrown hedges can be restored, and that it can be done at any time of year (although winter is best; spring is worst, when the sap is rising).