Planting thorn hedges

When a thorn hedge is to be planted, it is of advantage to fallow the ground a year beforehand; and if the soil is poor, to dress it with dung, so that the young plants may not be oppressed with weeds, or stunted for want of food, when weak and unable to send forth their fibres in search of nourishment. These things being attended to, and the hedge planted, an annual cleaning ought to be given; sometimes two cleanings are necessary before the hedge will thrive. It is also necessary to fence it at the back with paling, that beasts may be restrained from going over it, and to switch it over when two or three years of age, in order that it may be kept close at the bottom.

As the hedge grows up, repeated cuttings are necessary, so that a wide bottom may be gained, without which no hedge can be considered as a suitable fence; and some attention is required to give a proper shape to the top, which is a matter of much importance to the welfare of the hedge. When thorns are allowed to grow to unequal heights, the strong plants are sure to smother the weak ones, and when the hedge becomes broad at the top, it retains water and snow to the great injury of the plant. All these evils may be avoided by proper management: though twelve years must elapse before the best managed hedge can be considered as a sufficient fence.

The expense of protecting young hedges from cattle, by paling and railing, have always appeered to be too great, and, at the same time, an unnecessary consumption of wood and nails. It occurred to Mr. Moore, steward to the Marquis of Bute, that a more economical protection might be effected by forming a small earthern dike upon the side of the ditch, opposite the line of thorns, sufficiently high to prevent cattle getting into the ditch. Accordingly, some years ago, he tried the experiment, and found it completely to answer his expectation.

The materials of this sort of a protection being always on the ground, it is attended with no expense but the workmanship, and the want of the use of the land occupied by this small ditch, for the time required will be much more than compensated by the saving of paling, railing, workmanship, and nails. Mr. Moore has also practiced with success, in parts where dead thorns, or brush for cocking, are scarce, of placing of stones across the top of the dike, instead of the usual cocking. These stones, after having served their purpose, will be useful for drains or dikes where improvements are carrying on.

Return to The Household Cyclopedia of General Information