Hedge laying was the way a hedge was kept stockproof, now it is mainly down for conservation purposes. If a hedge is left it will grow out to become a series of individual trees.
The technique is quite simple. Excess top growth is removed, bramble and undergrowth cleared. The vertical growth can now be laid. Pleaching is cutting ¾ of the way through the stems with saw and axe as near the ground as possible (leaving a Stool) then the growth can be pulled down nearly horizontal to the ground. To hold these laid pieces in place poles are driven into the ground every yard or so. To keep the hedge stock proof long hazel wands called heatherings are woven between these poles forming a cap.
The new growth is mainly from the stools and laid stems thus thickening the hedge. In conservation work this improves the habitat especially for small mammals.
Landscape Character Area
Thurrock Reclaimed Fen