We use gapping up to diversify the range of species that make up our hedges. We use native stock of native species, though occasionally plant species that have naturalised locally (e.g. Myrobell).
Most of the hedges at Abbey Farm date back to the Enclosures and are dominated by hawthorn. Many had just 3.5 species per 30m. Ten years after gapping up this had increased to over 5 species.
We have found that survival rates can be low with gapping up. We are now trying to improve survival by:
- doing more weed control in the first three years
- using 75cm high tree guards to reduce hare damage
- using 1” stakes instead of canes in the hope this will reduce the number of guards that get blown away
- adding some farmyard manure round each plant in the first growing season