A well-maintained hedge keeps your garden looking neat and tidy. Discover how to trim yours using hand shears in our No Fuss Guide to trimming hedges, with Rosie Yeomans, BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine.
Trimming a hedge: transcript
Hedges are such an important garden feature that it’s worth taking a bit of time to trim them and make them look neat and tidy, particularly if you want a really formally faced hedge. If you do this in the autumn, or at the end of the summer, you’ll have the longest time for it to look absolutely neat and tidy. But as soon as it starts
growing in the spring, you might want to go back and trim to get a fine-textured finish. And if you don’t mind too much, them looking a little bit wispy and informal, maybe one cut is plenty. It depends on what kind of finish you’re trying to achieve.
Using a pair of hand shears is quite straightforward because all you’re doing is judging the bits that are sticking out and trimming them up as you’re working. Now with some hedges, if you’ve got a lower hedge and it’s really important that you’re clipping it tight, you might want to use a template. You could even use canes at each end of the hedge with a string so that you’ve got a marker to work to. In this case, I think by eye is absolutely perfect, but what I am keen to do, is to make sure that I work either from top to bottom or bottom to top – so that I’m working across the surface and using that line as my judgement each time.
If you’ve got a really big hedge, it’s worth considering the tools that you’re using are lightweight, because, particularly when you’re working above your head, you don’t want to have this weight affecting how efficient your cut is. You want an even cut right the way across. So go for lightweight tools, even if they’re power driven; if they’re plastic-cased, power driven tools, then they’re much easier to work with.
Most clipped hedges do better if they’re wider at the bottom than they are at the top. That means that you haven’t got any growth at the top shading out the lower buds. The top of the hedge is the last bit to be cut – you can easily get a line against that to cut against and you can get a perfect finish. But it’s really important to mention that whilst I’m hedge cutting here, the clippings are falling to the ground and I can rake those off afterwards. But when you’re cutting at the top, they fall into the hedge if you’re not careful. So as you cut, take the clippings and throw them onto the ground or onto a tarpaulin if it’s easier to work from that, when you’re tidying up. On a gravel path, I’d use some sort of way of collecting the clippings; on the grass, it actually does the grass a bit of good to rake them up at the end of the process.
So if you’re cutting just once a year or four times a year, if you follow those few basic rules, you’ll have a really fine surfaced, finished hedge.