Tools for trimming hedges in summer

A neatly trimmed hedge is like a neatly edged lawn - it immediately makes the whole garden look better. It's a job that's best done regularly, so that the job is easier, and summer is the best time to do it. Before you start, however, check that any nesting birds have flown.

We outline which tools are best for each type of hedge.

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With secateurs

Plants to prune with secateurs:

· beech
· holly
· hornbeam
· laurel
· mixed shrub hedges
· young privet

Why: on large-leafed hedges, indiscriminate cuts on the leaves caused by shears or hedge trimmers will turn brown.

How: cut back the current season's growth in midsummer, down to two or three buds from the base. Work to a taut string to keep the top and sides of the hedge level.

With shears

Plants to prune with shears:

· box
· established privet
· hawthorn
· Lawson's cypress
· leylandii
· yew

Why: on small-leaved hedges, shears are a quicker alternative to secateurs. The long blades also help to keep hedges level.

How: cut back the top and sides into a neat shape. Tirm off the softer, new growth. Clip in July and again in September.

With a hedgetrimmer

Prune with this:

· box
· conifer hedges
· established privet
· hawthorn
· large deciduous hedges
· mixed native hedges

Why: it's time-consuming and tiring to cut large hedges with shears - a hedgetimmer will make light work of it. The long cutting bar makes it easy to to keep surfaces even and level.

How: cut with a sweeping motion in small sections. Make sure you follow safety advice.

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