This gallery shows examples of over-trimmed hedges, from moderately to severely over-trimmed, with key tell-tale signs that a hedge has been kept at the same point in its lifecycle too long.
We have added a description to most to show whether we think they are H1, H2 or H3 and what evidence the hedge is showing.
H1 Heavily over-trimmed, sometimes with a hard knuckle of scar material at the trim line. H1 hedges are usually low and narrow, having been closely and frequently trimmed to the same lines, and lacking branches and foliage in the lower parts.These hedges often have many gaps, with sparse stems the base of which may be gnarled or rotting, the gaps may have been filled by elder, sycamore or other invasive species.
H2 Over-trimmed hedges may have a hard knuckle of scar tissue at the trim line from being closely and frequently trimmed to the same line. H2 hedges are often low and narrow, with infrequent stems. They may be developing mushroom shaped growth where they lack branches and foliage in the lower parts, and the base canopy may or may not extend to the ground.
H3 Over-trimmed hedges may or may not have a hard knuckle forming at the trim line. They still have frequent healthy stems but the base canopy may or may not extend to the ground as the hedge is starting to thin at the base.
Over trimmed hedgerows
H1 This hedge has been repeatedly cut to the same height for years and is showing the structural consequences. The stems are few and far between and look unhealthy, the hedge gaps have been filled with elder (which will temporarily fill hedgerow gaps but are not long lived enough to fill the gap long term). Ivy wrapped stems show that the hedge is cut too close too often, and may hamper regrowth. There is evidence that this hedge was laid in the distant past, but this hedge is now past rejuvenation through laying and should probably be coppiced with the gaps replanted.
H1 This is the remnant of an H1 hedgerow that has got more and more gappy until only a few shrubs are remaining. It looks like the last year or two it has been 'let up' and you can clearly still see the old trim line to which it was previously cut. From this distance you can't tell the health of the stems, but most likely this would need to be coppiced and re-planted to return it to being a viable hedgerow. The hedge in the background is on the same trajectory, (possibly an H2 hedge) becoming increasingly gappy.
H1 this hedge has historically been over-trimmed. However it is in a transition state, having not been trimmed this year. It had developed the classic mushroom like shape, losing all the vegetation at the base and only has a few stems remaining. Thankfully it has been left untrimmed for a year or so. Depending on the condition of the base and how frequent the stems are, this could possible be let up to lay, but more likely coppiced, replanting the gaps to rejuvenate this hedge from the base.
H1. This hedge has been over-trimmed. It has developed gaps, and the 'reaching' of side branches to fill this gap is a classic sign of over trimming. You can see a hard knuckle at the trim line, showing that it is regularly trimmed to the same height. If the gaps along the length of this hedge aren't too large or frequent, then this hedge could be let up and layed. After this, incremental size increases with each trim would create the dense structure from the base of a healthy hedge.
H1. this remnant of a hedge has been trimmed too frequently to the same height. It has a hard knuckle at the trim line, scar tissue built up over the years of being trimmed to the same point. It has lost the lower vegetation and has become leggy. Much of this hedgerow has been lost and it is more gap than hedge, probably through a combination of over-trimming and ploughing right up to the base of this hedge, damaging the shrub roots.
H1. this remnant of a hedge has been trimmed too frequently to the same height. It has lost the lower vegetation and has become leggy. Much of this hedgerow has been lost and it is more gap than hedge, probably through a combination of over-trimming and ploughing right up to the base of this hedge, damaging the shrub roots.
H2 This is an interesting hedge, it shows two distinct trim lines, one at about 1m high, where it had obviously trimmed repeatedly, then it has been left to grow another m, where it now again shows signs of being trimmed here repeatedly. Although this height increase has helped provide more healthy leafy material, unfortunately there are still too few stems for the hedge to thrive, and has lost most of its lower growth. Ideally this should be rejuvenated through coppicing or laying
H2 This is a classic over-trimmed hawthorn hedge. It has lost a few stems, which are now quite widely spaced and the base of the hedge is now sparse. It is developing the classic mushroom shape as it loses growth in the lower parts of the hedge.
H2 This hedgerow has been repeatedly and regularly cut to the same height. The older stems are looking like they are on their last legs, rotten and gnarled, and where gaps between the old stems have developed, young stems have shot up which is great. However as these young stems are being cut at the height of the hedge, they have developed a 'pole' like appearance, just a straight stick from ground to top, which is common of over-trimmed hedges of this kind. Luckily it looks like it is being 'let up' for laying as you can see good regrowth above the usual trim line.
H2 This hedge is over-trimmed. It has lost some stems and gaps are slowly forming, it is also losing the growth at he bottom of the remaining stems. It has been cut at this low and narrow point for too long, and will decline if this continues. However there are still regular healthy stems. This hedge could be cut larger at each trim to allow it to recover, or it could even be let up for laying.
H3/H7 This is a tricky one - you can clearly see the H3 over-trimmed hedge layer, with a thinning base and gaps forming. But this has since been let up for a few years, so is now an H7 hedge, whether through a change to non-intervention management, neglect or in preparation for laying. This hedge is now in good shape to be layed. When recording a hedge like this - record it as the structure it is, rather than what it has or will be. In this case it is an H7 hedge.
H3 This hazel hedge that has been over-trimmed. You can see the distinctive knuckle at the trim line, a sure sign it is trimmed to the same place too frequently. However there are still frequent healthy stems along this hedge. This hedge would benefit from increasing the cutting height.