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Master the Art of Hedge Trimming

February 28, 2017

Hedge TrimmingA properly trimmed and well-maintained hedge achieves many things for a home or business owner. An attractive hedge can add curb appeal while shaping the feel of a garden or overall landscape. Hedges contribute to the ecosystem by providing shelter and protection to many types of animals and insects, while also protecting the surrounding soil from heat and strong winds, preventing excessive evaporation and soil erosion.

To ensure that your hedges look their best while performing these vital functions, you must understand the importance of consistent trimming and pruning, and master the art of regular hedge maintenance.

Hedge Trimming Technique for Tall Hedges

Hedge trimming can, of course, be done by hand, but to achieve the cleanest, most consistent finish, the use of proper power tools is recommended. This is especially true for tall or extra-wide hedges. Using a long-reach hedge trimmer for taller hedges will not only save you time but also the hassle of setting up a scaffold or other working platform in order to access the hedges.

According to STIHL, most long-reach hedge trimmers have a swiveling cutting head, which would allow you to set its angle to trim along the top of a taller hedge. In addition to reaching above head-height, a long-reach trimmer can also assist in pruning the sides of taller hedges. Again, by adjusting the angle of the cutter head, you can easily cut according to your working position. Be sure to keep the trimmer straight while at close range, and at an angle while standing at a distance.

Finally, the elongated shaft of a long-reach trimmer will also allow you to reach over flower borders and beds that may separate you from the taller hedge.

Hedge Trimming Technique for Medium Hedges

Medium-height hedges can be easily maintained with standard hedge trimmers. If you can, use a trimmer with double-sided blades to trim the sides of your medium hedges. Cutting the sides vertically, in a sweeping arc-shaped movement with your double-sided blade will save you time as you cut in both the upward and downward stroke. Walk forward as you trim, cutting along the length of the hedge.

Cutting the top of a medium hedge requires you to hold the cutter bar horizontally at a slight angle, around 10°. As you move across the top of the hedge, use a sweeping motion to remove the clippings. You’ll likely see more success as well if you trim the sides of medium hedges first, followed by the top.

Additional Hedge Trimming Tips

There are several additional general rules of thumb to remember as you plan and execute your hedge-trimming routine:

  • Prune new hedges from an early stage to establish the shape you desire and to prevent leggy, unhealthy growth. Be sure to research your type of hedge to determine how much to prune back.
  • If you lack experience, you may not be ready to trim and cut your hedges just by eye alone. You can use taut lengths of string to set your guidelines before you cut.
  • Often the only remedy for a neglected formal hedge that has gotten out of shape is to severely cut back the branches. Again, be sure to research your specific type of hedge, however, as some species will react negatively if you cut into old wood.
  • Cutting seasons and trimming frequency will depend on your hedge’s species, but formal evergreens such as a box or privet should be trimmed 2-3 times a year during the growing season (roughly May to September), while other fast-growing conifers may need more frequent trimming to be kept in control. Also key to remember: hedges are homes! Refrain from cutting too early in the year to avoid disturbing any birds that may have chosen to nest in your hedge.
  • Keep your tools clean and sharp. A blade with sap build up will not be efficient; use approved cleaners to keep blades in top condition. Dull, blunt blades will also do more harm than good, tearing branches rather than producing clean slices. If your hedge’s trimmed tips appear ragged or light in color, or if your trimmer’s blades snag on the hedge, it’s probably time to sharpen the blades.

Ida Supply can ensure your blades will be sharpened properly if you choose to bring your tools into us for routine maintenance. You can schedule your blade sharpening service on our website. Contact us today!