Hedges provide beauty, but they come with enormous responsibilities. Keeping hedges is excellent as long as you can maintain them well-trimmed. And if you’re thinking about how to maintain a well-groomed hedge yourself, this article is for you.
Like a baby needs constant care, hedges require regular trimming as they grow. When hedges aren’t trimmed, they become rough and messy. They are also undesirable.
Therefore, to keep them neat and beautiful, they must be trimmed. However, keeping your hedges trimmed requires a lot of steps. We have presented a comprehensive guide for hedge trimming from the right equipment to the best time in the year for carrying out the procedure.
More frequent trimming is required for keeping specific shapes. But you shouldn’t be worried as trimming isn’t done daily. At most, you’ll be required to trim only twice a year.
Perhaps, you’ve always left the job of trimming the hedges to a gardener and know too little about it to do it alone, do not worry. You can begin to learn how to trim your hedges yourself without stress.
It is expected that you know your hedges quite well, as some hedges may need more frequent trimming. Every hedge has its peculiarities, which determine how you will treat it.
Why is hedge trimming important?
We trim hedges because they will become messy and wild if we don’t. Hedges are only desirable when well-trimmed.
Trimming is like pruning, which removes the branches that prevent flowers and leaves from blossoming. So, the more you prune your hedges, the better they look.
Pruning also stimulates growth, keeping it fresh and flourishing. This is because the dead and diseased parts are always removed.
However, trimming is done mainly for maintenance and aesthetic purposes. It is done to tidy up a hedge by removing the overgrown branches.
If you don’t remove overgrown and dead branches, the overall health of the hedge is compromised, and you may not be able to get the best from it.
When a hedge becomes too dense, it prevents sunlight from reaching parts of the hedge. Also, and more importantly, a well-trimmed hedge is lovely to behold.
When your hedges aren’t well-trimmed, their appearance is an eyesore. Leaving it to grow wild could also be a safety risk as it could harbor rodents and even spread to other compounds.
One major part of hedge trimming is knowing when to do it, which makes a big difference.
When to do hedge trimming
Trimming your hedges is time-sensitive. There are appropriate times to trim hedges because various factors determine how effective they would be.
The time to trim hedges depends on several factors. Ideally, you want to wait for a time when their growth rate has slowed down a bit, preferably late winter. That way, you can be sure that the trimming will last longer.
Another factor you should consider is the timing of the birds’ nesting. You can’t trim when nesting is on. The two phases for the vegetation of the hedges each year are in spring and the end of summer.
You don’t want to trim your hedges at such periods. If the hedges are flowering, trimming is ideal only when they are not blooming. That leaves us with two windows: Early March and September-October.
It has to be early March because once April sets in, birds begin to nest.
Hedge trimming tools and equipment
Trimming your hedges requires specific tools and equipment. However, some devices can be used to improvise if you don’t have the appropriate ones. The type of hedge, particularly the height, also determines the equipment you’ll use.
Typically, trimming tools can either be manually operated or powered. Most powered manual tools are battery, electric, or gas-powered.
You’ll also need tools like shovels, personal protective equipment, and waste collection tools.
Let’s look at the equipment popularly used.
- Hedge trimmers: These are power tools used to trim hedges with the least stress. Hedge trimmers come in different models and are mostly powered by electricity or gas. There are also battery-powered hedge trimmers. You can’t effectively trim hedges without hedge trimmers, although you can manually prune them.
- Hedge cutters: Hedge cutters are like hedge trimmers but are designed for larger, wilder hedges, especially those with thick branches. You may want to go for a hedge cutter when you’ve left your hedge untrimmed for a long time, as the branches may be too harsh for a trimmer.
- Secateurs: These are manual trimmers that require no power. However, they are only ideal for cutting small branches.
- Shears: These are also manual tools used to trim low edges. Shears can also be used to apply finishing to the trimmed hedges. Small-leaved hedges are better trimmer with shears and better alternatives to secateurs.
- Chainsaws: Chainsaws are power tools to cut larger branches and trim large bushes and hedges.
- Tree pruners: Tree pruners are designed to cut medium-sized branches, and telescopic tree pruners are used to reach high-up medium-sized units.
- Hedge cutting ladder: Hedge cutting ladders are designed to guarantee safety so that you can trim at any height conveniently. Many people assume you only need a ladder for the tall hedges. Even shorter hedges require ladders to trim the top branches effectively and perfectly.
Although most hedge trimmers and hedge cutters come with excellent maneuverability and are padded for comfort, you need to wear gloves when operating them for added safety.
If you’re using a manual trimmer, you should always wear protective gloves. Also, don’t forget to have handy collection tools like rakes and shovels to clear the ground after trimming.
Your equipment should be well maintained. They should remain sharp and work effectively. Once the blades are blunt, they won’t cut the branches and leaves well enough.
They would tear them, thereby not producing the neat trim you desire.
Hedge Trimming Tricks and Techniques
When trimming, you want to produce a neat and well-maintained hedge. However, there are certain things to consider.
Birds nest in early spring, so you shouldn’t trim them then. Also, it would help if you did not trim in the bright sunshine as the exposed branches may be scorched and damaged by the heat. It is best to do it in the morning or early in the evening.
When trimming, you should always leave your hedges wider at the bottom than the top to allow for even sunshine penetration. When the hedges are wider at the top, they prevent even access to the sun, causing more branches to withering at the bottom.
This is one secret to keeping the entire hedge green and fresh. You’ll, however, have to be careful when you trim to ensure the top is narrower than the bottom.
When cutting, start from the bottom and never from the top. Then make sure that you do not cut too deeply at once into the hedge. Remember, you want to maintain an even shape.
If you cut too deeply, you may alter the shape of the hedge. So, you should be gentle and cut as shallow as possible. Although a perfect trim is always the goal, this may not be achieved, especially if the hedge is long and stretches like a long fence.
To trim long hedges to perfection, you may need to stretch a line across two points to form the exact straight shape you desire. All you have to do is ensure that the trimmer is guided by the line to achieve a straight trim.
You can also use this technique to achieve any shape you want in your hedges.
It would be wrong to trim long sections of the hedge without stopping intermittently to observe how well it is going. You should use the rake to clear the ground of the leaves and branches and look out for areas that need adjustments.
No matter how bushy a hedge is, try never to cut more than 30 percent of its size all at once. The more you cut into its branches, the more risk it runs of becoming unhealthy.
Also, you shouldn’t use only one type of equipment. You should alternate between different types of tools. For example, you’ll need hand pruners to remove dead or damaged branches that may lurk within the hedges.
Move on gradually until you reach the end, and take out the leaves and branches as you go on. Always start trimming by removing the large branches first. Once you have dealt with all the large branches, you should then move to prune to make the hedge as neat as possible.
Also, don’t wait until your hedges are fully formed before you begin trimming them. You should start trimming them early. The hedges may not produce suitable shapes early, but it prepares the hedge for trimming when it matures.
Never trim a diseased hedge. It may become quite challenging to recover eventually when you trim a hedge that is already diminished due to pests or diseases.
Instead, wait until the hedge is green before you trim. Follow these tips, and your hedge will always remain healthy.
Safety Tips for Hedge Trimming
Even if you’ve been trimming hedges for a long time, you can never be too careful. If you are trimming for the first time, you should always take note of your safety.
Below are some safety tips on hedge trimming:
First, always have personal protective equipment when trimming. Your personal safety is quite important. Getting ready for hedge trimming must begin with your being suited up.
You should have safety glasses, hearing protection (using a noisy powered hedge trimmer), and gloves. You should also wear non-slip boots and anti-cut long-legged pants. Your clothing shouldn’t be too loose, especially if you’re using a hedge cutter.
Remember that the hedge trimmer removes the leaves and branches at high speed. Always make sure the blades are pointed away from your skin, and always keep the protective goggles on to prevent dry branch debris from entering your eyes.
Purpose-made protective glasses available from local garden stores are better than ordinary glasses as twigs can still find their way into the corner of your eyes with regular glasses.
Never operate the trimmer above your head. That’s why you always need a ladder. Even if the hedge is low, you may still need a ladder. But the moment you have to lift the trimmer above your head, you may risk falling over and which could result in injury..
Also, always walk forwards and never backward when operating your hedge trimmer. If you walk backward, you could trip and injure yourself.
Also, don’t trim your hedges in wet conditions. First, when wet, you may not get the firm grip you need if you have to use a ladder. Also, when wet, you may not be able to get the perfect trim as the wet leaves and branches may not cut neatly.
Finally, if you operate an electric-powered hedge trimmer, you are strongly advised not to use it in wet conditions as electrical equipment is best operated in dry conditions. So to avoid any problems, it’s best to not trim at all in wet weather.
Moreover, if you’re using an electric corded trimmer, be sure that you have a means of keeping the cord in place so that it doesn’t disconnect or trip you while in operation. If you have a problem using a corded electric hedge trimmer, you may go for battery-powered ones.
Finally, make sure you are alert and not weak or sleepy. Never operate any hedge trimmers when asleep. You could injure yourself.
We have provided tips and guidelines on how to trim your hedges best. Whether it’s a small hedge or a big one, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hedge trimmer, you can never be too careful to keep your hedges clean.
If you follow the steps outlined above, you will keep your hedges clean and healthy and make your environment as beautiful as ever!