Shrubs, bushes, and hedges are commonly used as a green privacy fence for our yard. They not only create the boundary lines to keep your children and pets safe inside but also enhance the curb appeal in your own backyard, from the lawn beauty to hardscapes, such as patios, pathways, driveways, etc. However, many homeowners usually undervalue hedges and plants and ignore all the care services for them.
Like other plants, hedges need watering, feeding, trimming, and proper cutting to give them a natural shape and are well-maintained. Badly overgrown shrubs and bushes can have a negative impact on your property and might cause some damage to lawns. Luckily, with a hedge trimmer, planting and shaping hedges for new growth are now easier than ever.
Below is some hedge trimming tips from experts to avoid injury during hedge trimming at the best time.
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TYPES OF HEDGE TRIMMERS
Selecting which type of a hedge trimmer depends on many factors, including how thick your leafy bushes and hedges are, the size and location of the hedge, as well as your cost.
Gas Powered Trimmers
A gas-powered hedge trimmer is best for a think hedge requiring trim and thick with foliage. Its powerful engines allow homeowners to trim hedges quickly and easily for new growth to start. Also, this type of trimmer isn’t connected to an extension cord, at which you can work freely anywhere in your garden without the distance limitations.
However, the gas-powered trimmers ask you to mix oil and gas with the right proportion to best work. If you don’t get this, you must come to difficult to work with them. And its average cost falls from about $250 to $360, or even $550. And one thing to ask for is a permit from your neighborhood’s homeowner’s association for using gas-powered trimmers due to their noise.
Corded Electric Hedge Trimmers
Many homeowners prefer a corded electric hedge trimmer because it is very quiet and requires less maintenance without any professional skills to use. Also, this trimmer doesn’t exhaust oil or gas or fumes into the atmosphere so it saves the environment as well. This electric trimmer allows you to trim small yards or shrubs near an electrical outlet.
Also, this electric trimmer is also affordable with a price of just between $50 and $75. Of course, along with this reasonable cost is the limitation in your range for hedge trimming since you have to drag around an extension cord.
Cordless Hedge Trimmers
Cordless hedge trimmers have appeared in recent years with the most advantages of both gas and corded electric trimmers. While a cordless trimmer will allow you to move around your whole yard without any limits like a gas trimmer, it is also really quiet, even quieter than a corded one, and doesn’t exhaust engine gas or oil. Taking advantage of both types of trimmers, the cordless trimmer is now in favor of hundred people.
It was these advantages that the cost of a cordless trimmer is also more expensive. This trimmer uses a battery of from 18 volts to 56 volts and the price ranges from $60 to $500 depending on the size of the battery. The higher voltage the battery is, the more power it requires to work.
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Lopping shears are used to cut branches and stimulate new growth near the plants’ edges. This is a lightweight tool with a size from 16 to 30 inches long. Remember to prune a shrub by overlapping the blades and sliding beside each other to create the proper space between each hedge. Be sure to use bypass hand pruners in each shearing for small cuts instead of the powered kind shear. The spaces between hedges can allow air and sunlight to get in and enable you to cut back shrubs without preventing interior growth.
In case the flowering shrubs are overgrown and too old, you’ll need to process rejuvenation pruning in the next 3 years in constant. Each year, you must cut one-third of the thickest stems down and repeat this process next year to stimulate new growth.
Pruning saws are recommended to control bigger stuff, which is greater than 1 inch long in diameter.
WHEN TO PRUNE HEDGE FOR BEST GROWTH
Commonly, late winter or early spring is the best time to trim hedges before the spring growth starts producing buds. Pruning is actually to encourage flowering shrubs, not to reduce their growth. That’s why you’ll not want to break buds before you prune your hedges. Maintenance trimming for formal hedges is carried out twice a year while for informal hedges, this job is required once.
Although the ideal time to trim hedges is recommended in early spring or late winter, there are some exceptions depending on the type of hedge you have.
Particularly, for some upright plants, you should go trimming when your plants go dormant during winter or later, and rebalance the shape again at the end of summer.
The stocky deciduous plants, such as beech hedges, hornbeam hedges, hazel hedges, etc. are similar: pruning when the trees are dormant or the time between current blossoms die and new buds are setting. With flowering shrubs, it’s better to wait until the blossoms turn brown to set for the new buds.
Most evergreens require pruning in the early season since they grow generally slower. Some evergreen plants you would have in your garden such as Laurel hedges, Leyland or Lawson cypress, Pyracantha… These plants can be pruned anytime over the year but much better in spring or late spring before summer – from March to before August. Because this time will give each plant the chance to recover new growth into the summer and prepare for healthier new flower branches before the winter damage.
Note: You’ll need to check for nesting birds this season. Early spring is the best season for nesting activity, so if you notice any signs of nesting birds in your garden, postpone the pruning for the next season.
Hedge trimmers can be easy to use but still contain some potential risk that requires you to be careful when pruning your landscape. Be sure you can know your own strength in which project you can do yourself beforehand. For large trees that you don’t have the right equipment, call for a professional arborist to help you.
Make sure all of your equipment is in good condition and sharp so that you don’t need to use much power trying to make them work. During pruning, keep your both hands on the trimmers and never use one hand to hold the branches while another cuts branches with the trimmer. The risk of this injury will be too high!
Be aware of your surroundings when using the hedge trimmers, including electric lines, obstacles, children, and pets. Check for any wires hidden inside the hedges before trimming. Especially when using a corded electric trimmer, it might contain an open power line that causes severe injury for you if you prune. Stay away from the tree with that power line and ensure your children and pets are kept away all the time.
Finally, protect yourself by wearing protective clothing, such as a mask, eye goggles, a safety rope for climbing, a long-sleeve shirt, work gloves, etc. And you can have bypass hand pruners in your back in case there are some sturdy branches located in a particularly hard-to-reach spot.
CUT IN SHAPING HEDGES
The first step for cutting hedges is to shape the hedge form by using a rope laid on the ground. Or you can use a metal frame as a hedge cutting guide. When the plant has grown over the frame, clip it close to the metal. After many times, when the metal frame is removed, your plants will go into shape inside that frame.
With the different styles of hedge gardens, you must have different ways of cutting them. But most of them, the common initial step is to begin with the sides of hedges vertically following the arc-shaped movement. Then move to the top of the hedge, and prune horizontally toward the direction of the trimmer.
Tall hedges are more difficult to trim, especially when you must finish the project at its top. For more convenience, you can use a mechanical trimmer, in which the cutting blade could be adjusted as you want.
Cutting Hedges for the First Time
For flowering shrubs or non-flowering bushes, you have to begin pruning right after they are planted. If you don’t do it timely, your hedge over time will always be thin and there are weeds around the root system. Ensure that you cut one-third of the height of the plant for the first time.
For evergreens and stocky deciduous hedges, do not apply cutting back after planting like flowering hedges. Just trim the side shoots one-third but not leading shoots. This will stimulate your landscape to grow later.
NARROWER AT TOP – WIDER AT BOTTOM
Note: Trim the sides of the hedge so that it’s wider at the bottom and slightly narrower at the top.
Begin from the bottom of the hedge and up toward the top. Most hedges start to be wider at the top to receive most sunlight and air. This will lead to a V shape to shade out lower branches so that they will produce less foliage.
However, you should upside down that V to create a shape that is wider at the bottom and narrower at the top. In this way, the hedge can allow the most sunlight to reach through the lower branches and root base. This will help your entire hedge to green and lush.
Remember to move the trimmer slowly and at a steady pace. And you should know that once you cut down the top of a plant, snow damage can cause broken branches. So you need to tie up the tall hedges by a rope or chain lock rather than a hose-covered wire.
Trim formal hedges three or four times annually while informal hedges just require once or twice a year since they are more natural shape.
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