BE3: Management of hedgerows

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the management of hedgerows option.

How much will be paid

£8 per 100m for 1 side of a hedge.

Where to use this option

Available for Mid Tier and Higher Tier.

On boundary lines of shrubs, which are:

  • composed of woody plants with less than 2m between the ground and the base of the leafy layer
  • over 20m long
  • less than 5m wide between major woody stems at the base
  • composed of at least 80% native shrubs

Where this option cannot be used

  • on features that are trees for most of their length
  • lengths of hedge managed under this option are not eligible for the capital item BN7 - Hedgerow gapping-up but are eligible for other capital item payments

How this option will benefit the environment

Increases the availability of blossom for invertebrates. By allowing fruit and berries to ripen it provides food for overwintering birds. It will also improve the structure and longevity of hedgerows.

If successful there will be:

  • taller and wider hedges, with gaps forming less than 10% of the hedge length
  • a mix of hedges of different heights and width across the farm
  • production of 2 to 4 times the weight of berries when compared with hedges cut every year
  • an increase in the blossom available to insect pollinators
  • dense cover, which is important for successful breeding for a variety of wildlife
  • an improvement in overall hedge condition to maintain them as distinctive and historic landscape features


  • maintain a hedge at least 2m tall and 1.5m wide by year 2, except for sections gapped up, laid or coppiced during the agreement term
  • cut hedgerows:
    • either no more than 1 year in 3 between 1 September and 28 February - leave at least two-thirds of hedges untrimmed each year
    • or no more than 1 year in 2 between 1 January and 28 February - leave at least one-half of hedges untrimmed each year
  • gap up any length of hedge with more than 10% gaps within the first 2 years

Do not:

  • remove any tree limbs, including lower limbs, or mature ivy growth from hedgerow trees
  • remove any standing deadwood
  • supplementary feed livestock within 2m of the centre of the hedge

Keeping records

Agreement holders will need to keep the following records and supply them on request:

  • hedgerow management records

You should also be aware that at the start of each claim year, a percentage of agreement holders will be asked to take and submit the following photographic records:

  • photographs of each hedge entered into the option

Advice and suggestions for how to carry out this option

The following section gives advice on carrying out this option successfully but does not form part of the requirements for this option.

Pick the right hedge

If you do not have management control of both sides of a hedge then only enter 1 side into the option. If there is no parcel number listed under your SBI for the land on one side of the hedgerow, for example where it is a road or track verge, or the land belongs to a neighbour, that side of the hedgerow can’t be entered into BE3 on your application.

Select hedges that:

  • are connected to other hedges or habitats (such as woodlands and ponds)
  • have other components such as hedgerow trees, bases or banks rich in flowers, or an adjacent ditch or margin

Use the option to improve the condition and longevity of hedges which are of particular historic interest, such as parish boundaries, or are especially important in the landscape.

Managing the hedges

If the correct rotor and forward speeds are used, well-maintained flails are effective for cutting 2- to 3-year-old growth of most woody species.

Fast growing species, such as ash or willow, may need heavier duty flails or more powerful cutting heads. Alternatively, use a circular saw or leave hedges uncut. There is no requirement to trim hedges at all during the agreement. Instead, leave them to grow and manage in a coppicing or laying rotation.

Cutting incrementally, rather than trimming back to the same point, allows hedges to increase in height and width by several centimetres at each cut, encouraging a dense, healthy hedgerow.

Use native shrubs species that already occur in hedgerows in the local area to gap up. A gap is a complete break in the canopy. Where a tree canopy overlaps the hedgerow canopy it is not counted as a gap.

Further information

Read more on:

See the Mid Tier manual or Higher Tier manual to find out more about the scheme and how to apply.

Published 2 April 2015
Last updated 10 March 2017 + show all updates
  1. Updated for 2017 applications.
  2. Information updated for applications in 2016.
  3. First published.