February is the last month for hedge-cutting and some drying last week from the cold east wind provided a short window to get to fields where hedges need to be trimmed before rain hit again.

Teagasc advice on topped hedges is to “trim from a wide base to a triangular profile” and to leave the top of the hedge at least 1.5m from the ground, while retaining individual whitethorn trees at regular intervals.

Hedges that are untopped should only be trimmed at the sides.

Teagasc advises never to top these hedgerows and, if rejuvenating, farmers are advised to coppice or lay at ground level.

When a tall or mature tree is topped at 1m in height, it results in what are called toilet brush hedges, where all of the branches are at the top and there is no shelter at the bottom of the hedge.

Planting hedges

New hedges can be planted up to St Patrick’s Day or before dormancy breaks. Whitethorn is the dominant species recommended in Irish hedgerows, accompanied by other species like blackthorn, holly, hazel, dog rose, guilder rose and woodbine.