I was in Ireland last month near the northern part of the Republic of Ireland. 100% of all properties were bordered by either a nice hedge or a wall of some form or another. Even the big fields had a thicket surrounding each one. Is there a land surveying type of law that establishes this or is the reason for this purely non-legal?

  • They are there to keep the sheep in the right field.
    – Dale M
    Feb 2, 2016 at 19:25
  • 1
    If you were in the northwest, the stone walls are mainly somewhere to put the stones (and some are ancient).
    – TRiG
    May 9, 2016 at 19:20

2 Answers 2


Good fences make good neighbors :) https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/mending-wall

But seriously, hedges were planted to form property boundaries between counties, church lands, private lands, communal grazing lands, etc. A tall, thick hedge obviously and clearly marks a boundary, stops grazing animals from straying, and provides privacy between farms.

Hedges were fairly cheap, could not be carted off like a lumber fence, and required little maintenance. I'm also sure you saw freestone rock walls; same property line function, different effort and effect.

There may have been laws that required property boundaries to be marked by hedges in years past. (Someone with more knowledge of UK laws can respond). But it may simply have been form follows function.

There are current laws that protect hedges from being cut down without good justification, as well as laws that only permit trimming of hedges during certain times of the year to protect the wildlife that inhabit the hedgerows.

  • 3
    Rock walls have an additional function: a place to put the rocks after you dig them up by plowing the field.
    – phoog
    Feb 3, 2016 at 18:58
  • True; have to put the stones somewhere, and there are lots of them :) Feb 17, 2016 at 6:06
  • There is no such thing as "UK law". Certainly not property law. NI law usually follows England and Wales (I know very little of Scottish law). There is no general obligation to fence in England and Wales. There is an obligation to stop domestic animals straying - and that is what the hedges are for. Mar 4, 2016 at 19:09
  • @phoog. Walls also prevent the strong Atlantic winds from blowing the topsoil away.
    – TRiG
    Jun 9, 2023 at 11:23

The farm land hedging could be explained by the GLAS scheme where you get paid €5 for every meter planted for 5 years


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