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Now’s the time to trim Hedges25 July 2011
Recent rain and high temperatures should mean hedges are in need of a trim, says Kris
THE BENEFITS of a hedge are obvious – privacy, security, boundary marker, noise reduction and wildlife habitat.
If you have an established hedge, it’s time to think about keeping it in shape with a bit of pruning.
You can be as creative or as simple as you like when it comes to shaping; from a low, square-trimmed or rounded off design up to more involved topiary shapes.
The species of shrub you are working with may determine how you shape your hedge but there are some general rules to follow across the board.
For a clipped and formal appearance, aim to give a light trim every 4-6 weeks through the summer months.
Trim the sides as required, but aim for the base to be a little wider than the top to prevent winter snow damage.
Keep deciduous hedges in dense leaf by top trimming regularly, to promote side shooting.
If you are to restrict the height of your hedge - and ideally you should aim to keep things below 6ft 8in (2m) to prevent a battle with the neighbours!) – remove the leading shoots a little lower to allow for re-growth. So for a 6ft 8in (2m) hedge, prune down to 6ft 4in.
Read on for my top tips, tools for the job and the best shapes for successful hedge pruning.
Before starting the job, lay a tarpaulin or similar sheeting below the hedge to easily collect the trimmings for quick removal.
For a straight, flat finish, create guidelines between two garden canes using taut string or twine, and prune against them.
For broad-leaved hedging plants, use secateurs. Shears will cut into remaining leaves which brown off and look unsightly.
HEDGES MUCH over 6ft (1.8m) bring the added trouble of working safely at height. It’s fine being up a ladder for a spot of light pruning with secateurs, but arm yourself with a hefty pair of shears or a powered hedge trimmer and things can become that much more perilous.
To make a sturdier working platform, a scaffolding plank can be balanced across two sets of step ladders to create a parallel walkway alongside the hedge.
Or for a safety-tested product, try a platform ladder which can be moved along as your work progresses. If you don’t have a head for heights try long handled shears (left) or an extending hedge trimmer, to keep you safely on terra firma.