New Compostable Film for weed control in newly planted hedges
New compostable film is available for use instead of plastic to protect newly planted hedges against weeds. The compostable film is starch based with additives from the dairy processing industry added. Catherine Keena, Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist has more information for Hedgerow Week
When planting, identify a few whitethorn (maybe 5 / 100 m) to be retained as trees and protect with tree guards or shelters. Prune all other plants except holly down to an inch or so above ground level with a sloping cut to leave a sharp point. Push a strip of compostable film down neatly over the cut stumps. Press the edges of the compostable film into the ground to hold it down.
Ongoing pruning of new hedges
Whitethorn thrives on pruning. Where plants were pruned immediately after planting down to an inch or so above ground level with a sloping cut to leave a sharp point and pushing a strip of compostable film or used silage plastic down neatly over the cut stumps, new sprouts will have appeared just below the cut stump resulting in approximately 5 stems growing up instead of one. During the first growing season, these 5 stems will grow up maybe a half a metre. The next step is to carry out a second pruning after the first growing season during the dormant season in winter. This involves cutting each of the 5 stems back down to within an inch or so above the previous cut, which will result in the multiplication of the 5 stems into 25 stems close to the ground where we want the dense growth. With a new hedge, it is not a race to the top, but rather letting it inch its way up year by year. At planting, a number of thorn saplings should have never been identified for retention as trees and should have been protected with a tree guard and left uncut. It is important to look out for these future thorn trees at second pruning and again leave them uncut.
Left: New hedge sapling cut at planting showing how shoots sprouted just beneath the cut and grew up during the first growing season
Right: Second pruning of the hedge showing the cutting of the cutting of the multiple stems an inch or so above the first cut
Compostable film availability and price
Compostable film is available from two sources in Ireland at a cost of approximately 50 cent per metre of hedge. Cost will vary with the width and thickness of film. The wider the better to prevent vegetation from either side falling over the new shrubs. The thickness can be between 30 – 50 micron. This compares to maize film of 7-8 micron. The lighter film appears to be adequate but is more difficult to handle.
Maiztech who have been involved in the maize ground film industry for thirty years and as and from July ’21 have moved to compostable film. John Foley from Maiztech can be contacted on 053 9377715 at Coolmelagh, Bunclody, Co Wexford or on 086 2438683.
SAMCO in Tuogh, Adare, Co. Limerick, are experts in mulch film and machinery solutions. Robert Shine can be contacted on 061 396176 or 087 856 9919
Hedgerow Week 2022
Friday August 26th to Friday September 2nd marks Hedgerow Week 2022.
The theme for the week is Best Practice Hedge Cutting
Get more information on hedgerow week 2022 here
Get more information on hedges here