Shrubs and Hedges: Part 1

Before you go grabbing all your tools and attacking your plants, let’s take a brief moment to look at the basics of pruning, shaping and sheering your shrubs and hedges.

Shrubs and hedges can add a lot to the appearance of your home and garden, and to keep them and your yard looking at its best they need to be serviced and trimmed every season.

Typically there are two main styles of shrubbery; informal and formal. Informal hedge trimming gives the plant a nice natural edge while formal hedge trimming is the art of creating straight lines or fancy angles and curves. In this blog we’ll cover the basic trimming techniques for both.

First off make sure you have the right tools for the job. This will include a variety of pruners, loppers, shears, a ladder (depending on hedge size), safety glasses and gloves. Always think safety first and don’t work above the second last step on your ladder, don’t attempt hard to reach places, and remember to use your safety glasses.

Taking note of when the plant blooms is a good trimming indicator. If your shrubs or hedges have flowers that bloom in early spring, trim them after they bloom in summer. If they bloom in late spring it’s best to trim them in autumn or winter. For non flowering hedges, avoid pruning from the time the buds swell, to the time the leaves are fully formed.

Tip: Some light garden maintenance in the form of soft pruning is ok to keep your section and plants looking good.

Beware of the common misconceptions about the proper way to prune hedges. Carelessly just ‘topping off’ the edges of the limbs is not what you want to do. When you cut just the tops, the hedge grows a thicker cover, preventing air and sunlight from reaching the inner limbs of the plant. Another mistake is pruning the plant so that the top is wider than the base. Doing this means the longer top branches can block the sunlight from reaching the base of the plant. And of course, exercise self control. Remember you should only be trimming, removing about ⅓ of the limbs. Rehabilitating a severely damaged shrub or hedge back to full health might take two or three growing seasons.

For other ways to improve the look of your landscape have a look through our other blogs on how to projects.