An ancestral peasant practice, the plessage of country hedges consists in notching the young branches to bend them and intertwine them around stakes planted at regular intervals.
The goal: to build a living barrier.
By C. Levesque
Plessage, a know-how that is coming back up to date
Abandoned in France with the arrival of barbed wire and electric fences, this know-how is back in fashion, in particular thanks to the Boursay botanical house (www.maisonbotanique.com), in the Loir-et-Cher, which organizes each year, in February, training workshops in plessage with a day of demonstrations and many activities around the hedge.
In Mondoubleau, for example, there are hedges plessées along a housing estate. In Mauges (Anjou), Sarthe or Deux-Sèvres, the municipalities use it in car parks, picnic areas, but also in private homes.
An alternative to "green concrete"
Very aesthetic, the plessée hedge constitutes an interesting alternative to the “green concrete” constituted by the cedar or laurel hedges, which are not very conducive to biodiversity.
It avoids the gaps that tend to form on uncut hedges, limits the shade cast on the garden thanks to its low height and provides firewood during pruning. It is also very effective in protecting a body of water.
When to pless the hedge?
This operation is carried out from november to april (excluding frost day) on any country hedge reaching at least two meters in height with branches (stems) at least 3 cm in diameter.
An annual pruning is then required.
The stages of plessage
• Cleaning of the hedge, which is carried out using a secateurs with handle and a croissant, aims to cut off shoots, clean dead wood, brambles… and select the strands that will be plessed (5 cm in diameter).
• Stakes 5 cm in diameter and one meter at 1.50 m high are planted every 30 to 40 cm.
• Slash the base of the strand obliquely with a billhook or a chainsaw to allow their bending and remove the heel that remains near the stump. They are then directed horizontally and intertwined on either side of the stakes.
• Finally, we braid the top of the hedge with hazelnut saplings or flexible thorny stems in the opposite direction of plessage.