Hedgerow Guidance

Learn how to devise a management plan for your hedgerow.

IMPORTANT: Restrictions on Cutting Hedgerows 

It is an offence to destroy vegetation on uncultivated land between the 1st of March and the 31st of August each year. This is stipulated in Section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976 as amended by the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 and the Heritage Act 2018. You can read more on the NPWS website

Although it is legal to cut hedgerows outside of this time period, Hedgerows Ireland recommends that you wait till later in the winter season as hedgerows are a vital source of berries for birds and other animals in autumn.

Hedgerows are dynamic and have different needs depending on their life cycle stage. Understanding this life cycle will help you decide what management action is most appropriate for your site. Click to expand the graphic produced by Farming for Nature which illustrates what we should strive for in our hedgerows.

How to Manage Hedgerows

Map your hedgerows.

  • Use a pen and paper to draw an outline of your land, or take a screenshot from Google Maps satellite view.
  • Map banks, boundaries, and existing hedgerows; note the species present, especially rare or unusual species for your area. Use different colours to represent different types of boundaries, and give each boundary a name or number.
  • Optional extra: use the Hedgerow Appraisal System to record quality.

Plan your actions.

  • Decide on the location and the species mix of new hedgerows.
  • Figure out where each boundary fits in the hedgerow management cycle.
  • Decide how to safely reduce the cutting of roadside hedgerows.

Complete your actions: Follow the Hedge Code and the guidance below.

  • Plant new hedgerows and fill gaps in existing ones.
  • Lay, coppice, or carefully trim hedgerows using your schedule.
  • Construct log piles, save the excess for firewood, and harvest produce.