How to trim a hedge Blog post from our “How To Series”. Welcome to another Blog post in our series of “how to” instructional guides. These guides are aimed for tree owners who are keen to get their hands dirty.
Get stuck in on some of their own tree maintenance. Carrying out minor upkeep on your own trees can be very rewarding. Will also give you an opportunity to notice the health and condition of your trees.
A well trimmed hedge can provide a variety of functions.
Such as a crisp clean back-drop to your garden. When managed correctly a hedge can be a great wind barrier and can act as a natural divider to create different zones or spaces in your garden.
To keep a formal hedge looking in its best condition regular trimming is key. This how to trim a hedge blog is for those people who want to achieve a manicured looked of their hedges themselves.
In the abnormally fast growing conditions we have in Auckland it does not take long for a hedge to become out of shape. Missing a few cuts can make the difference between needing a quick once over with the hedge trimmer to needing a hard prune with a chainsaw.
Start by assessing the condition of your hedge; how much and what size is the growth to be removed? This will help to determine the tools you will need.
For branches thinner than your thumb you should be fine.
Use a sharp set of hedge trimmers. For branches thicker than your thumb you may need the help of a pruning saw or loppers.
If there are lots of branches over this size then it may be quicker with a chainsaw and it is time to call a professional Arborist.
If you are going to be managing the hedge yourself it is best to choose a size that you can easily and safely reach. If possible choose a height for your hedge that you can easily cut whilst standing on the ground.
If this is not suitable choose a height that can be easily reached from the lowest rungs of a stable step ladder. The more difficult the hedge is to cut the less likely you are to do it regularly and the greater the chance there is of you hurting yourself.
It is best to keep your hedge relatively narrow as it makes trimming the top a lot easier. Having a total hedge width of about 1-1.5 meters is good for most species.
This will vary a bit depending on the age of the hedge and the type of plants used. It may not be possible to bring an old hedge back to this width without killing it, especially if it is certain evergreen conifer species.
Ideally when trimming your hedge you should be cutting back to live growth.
This means that after you have finished cutting there is still a large percentage of green foliage left on the hedge.
Some species of plants can tolerate having all of their foliage removed and some cannot and will die. It is important that you know the species of your hedge for this reason.
Once you have been trimming your hedge regularly you generally trim it back to the previous cuts. For newly planted hedges you can start with a very light trim after the fist year or two once the plants have become established.
Even if the hedge has not reached its eventual size snipping the end of the branches will encourage the plants to thicken up and you will end up with a denser hedge.
Generally, the less you take off each time the better it will be for the health of the hedge.
Trimming your hedge regularly (2 to 3 times a year) will be better for the hedge and will also make the job easier and quicker to do.
The less you cut means less to pick up too. Consider raking the clippings back under the hedge. As they break down they will mulch the hedge. You could also consider spreading well-rotted wood mulch under your hedge from time to time to act as a slow release fertiliser.
Finally, if your hedge has lapsed too far it might be time to call a qualified Arborist to bring it back in shape. Let them know if you want to manage it yourself in the future and they should be able to provide you with a suitable solution.
Rossy and the Team.