Posted: 20/04/2017 at 18:48
Hi Diane - I wouldn't worry too much about pruning if they're only a couple of feet tall. It's usually a good idea to prune if they're bigger sized whips.
Are you sure you mean Acer? Did you mean Maple? If so, you'll need to be prepared to do a fair bit of pruning as those will get very big. They're not really an ideal specimen in a hedge.
If there's lots of ivy in the hedge, you may want to try and get rid of some of it in order to let the hedge you want thrive. That can be tricky, but if you keep pruning it right at the base it might weaken it. Alternatively, you can use a weedkiller on the foliage, very carefully, and wait for it to die back. It'll take several applications though. If you bruise the foliage a bit, that helps weedkiller to penetrate.
Re tackling your whole hedge - I think you're doing the sensible thing by attending to a small stretch at a time - perhaps twenty feet or so. Bare bits at the bottom of the hedge can be improved with correct trimming and pruning over time, and also by clearing up and tidying the base of the hedge, giving it a general feed in early spring,a thorough watering and a mulch of well rotted manure, compost or bark. If you add any whips in the gaps, perpare the ground well to start with, and they'll stand a better chance of thriving.