Hedges are a common sight in residential neighborhoods, used mostly to mark the boundaries of one’s property. But we all know these green leafy bushes are a lot more than that.
They’re aesthetically pleasing works of art and signify peace, homeliness, and frankly speaking, how responsible the homeowners really are. Unkempt and overgrown hedges are greatly frowned upon and are in no way acceptable.
So, if you’re new to the world of hedge trimming and are in desperate need of some advice, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading for a basic guide on how to trim your hedges and keep them in perfect shape.
#1. Pick the Right Time to Trim
Are you someone who trims your hedges whenever you get the time? Or perhaps only when it’s visibly overgrown?
Now, it’s okay to give your hedges a light trim now and then using hand shears. But the best time to do this is late in the afternoon or early in the morning. If you trim at these times, the sun’s scorching heat won’t ruin those freshly cut branches.
When it comes to shaping, however, the perfect time to trim will vary with each plant and its condition. So, you’ll need to do proper research on your hedges first.
For instance, spring-flowering plants need trims after they’ve bloomed. Summer flowering plants, on the other hand, need their trims as winter ends or right as spring begins.
#2. Choose the Correct Equipment for the Job
Well, I hate to break it to you, but there are a lot more routine and science behind hedging your yard than you realize.
When it comes to trimming perfectly, choosing the right equipment is extremely important. The two most obvious things to consider are how you’ll do the main trimming itself and what you’ll use to reach the hedge’s height.
You’ll need a number of tools in your trimming kit to ensure that your hedges look their best. Use pruners for trimming large branches and shears for the lower bushes. It’s also a good idea to get an electric or gas-powered hedge trimmer.
These work well for very tall hedges and are much more accurate. They also reduce the effort you have to put in. Nowadays, you can even get cordless trimmers that do the same job, with more mobility and no fumes.
#3. Get Your Trimming Strategy Straight
Trimming hedges is a skill that involves a lot of technique and strategic cutting. You should start off by thinning out the outer thick parts. Avoid cutting from the top of the outer branches and stick to the branches near the base stem.
This will help your hedge grow all the way throughout instead of just on the top.
Afterward, get rid of all the dead and broken branches and move on to the deeper parts of the plant, thinning around 1/3rd of its interior. This is necessary to let air flow through and prevent mold or diseases. But any more than this will harm your plant.
Always remember to keep the base of your hedge wider than the top. This way, your hedge will get uniform sunlight. And for overgrown hedges, angling the trimmer to 45 degrees will take away almost all of the excess and give you a clearer picture.
#4. Use Guides for a Better Finish
Getting perfectly clean lines and edges when trimming is not an easy task. Keeping a steady hand and vision won’t come naturally, and you won’t ever get the desired result. So, if you’re a newbie, don’t start cutting freehand.
You know how you used a cup to trace circles as a child when you first started drawing? Well, to get straightly cut hedges, you need to apply a similar technique.
Try to look for straight lines around you as reference points for your outlines. This could be street signs, the edge of another house, or even your neighbor’s hedges.
A more foolproof way to do this is to DIY your own lines. Simply stick some wooden stakes into the ground around the corners of your hedge. Connect the stakes using a string and make sure they’re on the same level.
Then, you can use the string as reference points for your straight lines.
#5. Make Cleaning More Efficient
Nobody really looks forward to the aftermath of beautifying hedges because cleaning it up takes double the hard work and time. But what can you do? This is the unavoidable price you pay for maintaining an aesthetic garden.
However, you can make the cleaning up task much easier by preparing for it in a smarter way. Before you start hacking away, place a tarpaulin or groundsheets around the hedge. This way, all the branches and leaves will fall in one place, and you won’t have to collect all the scattered debris.
It’s also wise to blast a leaf blower through your hedges after you’re done. This will get rid of all the loose leaves that didn’t fall. Also, make sure the bin you’re using is heavy-duty and has a properly locking lid.
You don’t want all your hard work to go to waste because of some wind!
#6. Take Safety Precautions
Trimming may sound like an “adult” activity to do on a nice relaxed afternoon. I mean, after all, it’s no adventure sport. But since there are some pretty sharp tools and debris involved, injuries and accidents are not uncommon.
So, you should always take the right precautions and follow the safety rules of trimming. First of all, make sure you’re using your dominant hand when you handle the trimmers. You should also be wearing gloves and goggles to protect your hands and eyes from the debris and sharp branches.
If you’re using a ladder, never lean it against the hedges. Always make sure there’s some external support. Also, don’t forget to wear non-slip boots, because you don’t want to be falling on your butt with a trimmer in your hand!
Trimming hedges perfectly isn’t something you can master in a day, or even a year. It’s going to take time, patience, and lots of practice.
But once you get the hang of it, the finished product will always be worth it. So, follow the tricks above and keep trying. With the right techniques and consistent effort, you’ll surely have the best hedges in the neighborhood!