farmers, with a small amount of work being done for the council and even churches have hired me in!

What is the demand for hedge-trimming?

There is a big demand, more so as a result of the shortened season because everyone wants the service at the same time. I usually go from farm to farm cutting field hedges first before the fields are ploughed and farmer’s get their winter crop sown, as that has a limited time period.

With the rest of my customers, I spend a day or two at each place just doing the fields that are needed done and then returning to do the rest when I’m not as busy.

Where’s the furthest you have travelled to cut?

The furthest I’ve travelled to cut would be Blackburn, in West Lothian.

What is the law with hedge-trimming? When exactly are you allowed to do it and what’s the consequences for breaking the law?

The legal season for cutting hedges starts from September 1 and lasts until March 1, however, before you are allowed to legally trim hedges, you need to apply for hedge cutting derogation, which is provided through ScotGov.

If you get caught outside of time bracket for cutting, then the farmer is held liable and can be faced with losing some of their farm subsidies. The previous season began from August 1 but was shortened by a month – now starting in September – so we have to go round the same number customers and hedges but in shorter space of time.

The only exception to cutting out with the legal season would be if you had to cut a hedge surrounding a field that will be sown with oilseed rape as this is one of the early sown crops. All you have to do is phone the department and you can get a permit to cut earlier than the official start date.

Another exception would be to cut roadside hedges if they are posing as an obstruction, for example, on a road bend or farm entrance/exit. You do not need permission to cut beforehand as this is done for safety measures to the public.

What’s the biggest challenge you face hedge-trimming?

The foremost problem I face is the shortened season. There is a huge pressure to get round all your customers and get all the work done on top of the pressure of having a harvest to attend to at home – September is nightmare of a month!

Cyclists passing and getting thorns in tyres – I once had someone rattling on window threatening to go to the police!

Did you have to receive training, a license or attend a course to be able to cut hedges?

You don’t need any form of license or qualification to cut hedges. I just received a crash course with Tommy and was let loose!

Any changes you have witnessed over the years in regard to hedge-trimming?

The biggest change would be in the reduced season as we used to be able to cut all year round – if I wasn’t busy at farm there was always a hedge to cut.

Another would be the bigger and heavier machinery on offer. It’s definitely a good thing as the equipment leaves a better finish on the hedge and is more stable to cut with.

Any tips or advice to those who are wanting to start their own hedge-trimming service?

If you want to get into any form of contracting, then you need to be willing to work long hours and sacrifice time at home with the family, as the majority of the work is seasonal.

You also need to learn how to delegate your time properly as you have so many customers requiring your services all at the one time. It’s like a milk round – try to stay in the same routine in terms of customers each year.

It is definitely all worth it, though, when you do a good job and your customers are happy, and I’m grateful for the loyalty my customers have shown over the years – if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have a business today.