A hedge serves multiple purposes for homeowners. Its most common uses include beautification and fencing. Now, a hedge consists of shrubs. These come in many varieties.
However, this won’t be the focus of our discussion. Rather, we will be looking at ways to care for your hedge.
One of the most common ways includes trimming. So, shouldn’t this be straightforward?
How to Trim Hedges
Trimming is a no-brainer, right? As easy as it sounds, you’re likely to be misled into thinking it is. There are lots of factors to consider when it comes to the care of shrubs.
Find these and more here as we seek to focus on hedge trimming.
Why Do You Need To Trim Your Hedge?
Why is it important to trim my hedge? Can’t I simply ignore it to grow naturally? Every plant requires care and maintenance. Shrubs also need this care.
Now, care for plants includes trimming off diseased or dead parts of the shrubs or hedge.
Insect problems are also minimized by removing dead shrub limbs. This makes way for new growth, thus making the condition of your hedge more aesthetically appealing.
Using The Right Trimming Equipment
When it comes to trimming a hedge, you’ll need to use the right equipment to avoid damage to the plants. Also, such equipment enhances efficiency while also limiting injury. So, what type of equipment is right for hedge trimming?
These are known by their common name; hedge trimmers.
Hedge trimmers come in different types, brands, and sizes. The three main types of trimmers include gas-powered trimmers, corded electric trimmers, and battery-powered cordless trimmers. Any of these can be used based on what fits your purposes.
For a better understanding of the types of hedge trimmers, let’s briefly discuss each as follows;
Gas-Powered Hedge Trimmers
If you want a hedge trimmer that allows for ease of movement while trimming, then this should be considered. Gas-powered hedge trimmers come with powerful engines that can cut through thick branches quite easily. These come in different sizes (ranging from 16″ to 24″) and brands too.
The downside (not so severe) though is that it can be quite noisy due to its gas-powered engine. You’ll need to take into consideration any neighborhood regulations concerning noise pollution. Getting these hedge trimmers will cost you anywhere from $180 to $550.
The cost will be determined by factors such as size, brand, etc.
Corded Electric Hedge Trimmers
Unlike gas-powered hedge trimmers, electric trimmers are less noisy and require less maintenance. You only need a power outlet (usually an extension cord) to plug your cable to. However, this means you’ll have limited movement and will have to move in such a way that the cable doesn’t get entangled.
Corded electric hedge trimmers are less expensive and will cost between $40 to $200. This type of equipment will be best for persons with a small hedge and those having electric outlets close to the hedge area.
Battery-Powered Cordless Trimmers
Batteries have proven to be very useful in powering a variety of equipment. One of these is a cordless trimmer. Not only do these types of trimmers allow you to move freely, but it also makes less noise when compared to gas-powered hedge trimmers.
In other words, this trimmer can be said to possess the best of both worlds.
The performance of a cordless hedge trimmer is directly tied to its battery capacity or power. Battery capacity ranges from 18 to 56 volts. The greater the capacity, the longer it runs. However, batteries come with added weight.
So, you should expect cordless hedge trimmers to be heavier than other types, especially corded trimmers.
Getting these will cost you anywhere between $60 to $500 depending on size and brand among other things.
Practical Tips On Hedge Trimming
Having discussed the ideal equipment for the job, we must shift our focus to the best ways to get the job done. This section provides you with different tips on how best to care for your hedge. It doesn’t matter what shrub specie or variety you have. It works for all types.
Hedge Trimming Frequency
You must figure out how often to trim your hedge. This allows for a more calculated approach to the maintenance of your shrubs. When it comes to the growth of hedges, there’s formative as well as maintenance trimming.
In the case of formative trimming, you want to prune these shrub into a desirable shape. This is usually done with the first couple of years after planting (that is, during winter or early spring). Maintenance trimming, on the other hand, is done once a year.
Under maintenance trimming, there are formal and informal hedges.
How tightly a hedge is clipped determines if it’s formal or informal. A formal hedge is usually tightly clipped while an informal hedge has a more natural shape and is clipped less often (once or twice a year).
Formal hedges are trimmed more frequently (at least 3 to 4 times each year).
Where And How To Trim
Before using your hedge trimmer, you’ll need to know where to place them, and at what angle. You don’t start from the top to the bottom when trimming. Rather, you should start from near the bottom to the top. Also, you should be careful not to cut too deeply into the hedge.
Instead, you should make several passes, cutting not more than a few inches at a time until you get the shape you want.
The sides of the hedge should be trimmed at an angle. This makes it wider at the bottom and narrower at the top.
Why is this necessary? You want to allow even distribution of sunlight. In other words, you want sunlight to reach the lower parts of the shrub as it does the top.
Trimming Hedge To An Even Height
Most times, people make mistakes when trimming their hedge to the desired height which results in an uneven cut. One of the best ways to avoid this is by improvising.
To trim your hedge (especially when working on a hedgerow) to an even height, we recommend improvising with a taut nylon line.
This is stretched to the desired height between two wooden poles. Next, use your trimmer to trim down the hedge a few inches at a time until reaches the set level as measured by the taut line. It isn’t enough to just trim the shrubs.
You must also get rid of the cut branches as well as perform an inspection by checking for dead branches. This can be done by opening the top of the shrub and looking down.
Trimming Tall Hedges
Sometimes, people are faced with the challenge of trimming tall hedges. However, this shouldn’t be a problem if you use the right tools.
Hedge trimmers come with extensions or accessories that allow for ease of access to tall shrubs.
This equipment can either be bought or hired. It is attached to your trimmer and makes it more convenient to get the job done.
When Should You Trim Hedges?
Knowing when to trim your hedge is as important as knowing how to go about it. The reasons are simple. Different seasons present specific conditions that may or may not favor trimming. In all cases, hedges shouldn’t be trimmed in early spring.
This is a time when birds are nesting.
Also, the time of day you decide to get the job done also matters. Early mornings or late afternoons are the best times to trim your hedges. This helps you avoid the exposure of freshly cut areas of the shrub to the scorching sun.
There are also different types of hedges. Each of these has an ideal time to trim them. A few of the many hedge varieties include Yew hedges, Berberis hedges, Hawthorn hedges, Holly hedges, Laurel hedges, Privet hedges, Beech hedges, and Leyland Cypress hedges amongst others.
Let’s briefly discuss the best times to trim some of these shrubs.
For Yew hedges, August or September is the best time to trim them. The entire hedge shouldn’t be trimmed when dealing with a large shrub. Here, major trimming is required as such, it should be done in stages. Start by cutting the top the first year, followed by one side the next year and the other side the following year.
Trimming Berberis hedges should be done only after it must have flowered and not when it’s flowering.
To trim Hawthorne hedges, you should wait till June. That is because, at this time, it has already flowered, hence it is safe for trimming.
Late summer is the ideal time to trim back Holly hedges. However, in the event where the hedge is overgrown and you’d like to trim hard, you should wait for spring.
For Laurel hedges, the months of July or August are ideal times to trim. You might want to further trim off damaged or ragged-looking leaves with secateurs after using your trimmers.
This variety of hedges should be trimmed within the May to August window. Trimming can be done twice a year or more depending on its growth. For hard trimming, April should be the best time.
The month of August is the best time to trim Beech hedges. For hard trimming, mid-winter will be the ideal time to get the job done.
With the information made available here, you should have a fair idea of what it takes to trim your hedges in all situations. We’ve shed light on the equipment as well as the types, how to trim as well as when to trim.