Hedge Maintenance and Care Tips
The first years of a hedges life are the most important. Naturally the hedge will develop into a bushy upright shape with no assistance but this alone will not produce a good hedge, what is desired in a good hedge is a dense and uniformed growth habit with even shape and a desired height and width. Regular training and careful pruning from the year of planting is the only way to achieve this, after neglecting a hedge for some time it is very difficult and sometimes impossible to restore it to a desirable look. Hedges should be trimmed at least twice during the growing season and once at the end of the growing season, although flowing hedges should be pruned after flowing has occurred.
Hedges large or small, formal or informal are very important features of a garden. They can be used to give privacy, mark boundaries and provide shelter from wind. In larger gardeners they can even be used to dived space or act as a background or backdrop for other plants. Smaller hedging like box hedging can be used in formal gardens for a more abstract design.
The future of your hedge is determined by the way your future hedge is managed. In the early stages of a hedge it is often necessary to cut it quite hard to achieve the shape you desire but this also encourages growth. Hedges with smaller leaves are considered to be more formal as these are easier to trim and shape. Another factor to consider is whether your hedges are needed for screening, in which case it would be necessary to choose an evergreen specimen, which retains it leaves throughout the winter.
Many free standing hedges can be pruned into decorative shapes when they have matured, they can also be trained to do this from young plants.
Making a Spiral Cone
1. To make a spiral cone from a mature bush, firstly begin by marking out a spiral cone from string attaching the string to branch tips at regular intervals.
2. Step back from the bush and check that the spirals are running at even intervals from each other and that you are happy with the shape.
3. Using secateurs or a pruning saw, remove all stems and leaves back to a main stem or truck.
4. In time foliage with grow to hide the bare surfaces and this shape should be trimmed to maintain its spiral effect.
It is important to prune a hedge with the correct equipment and always use shape tools. Hedge trimmers are good for cutting specimens with small leaves for example privets to achieve a formal hedge. Other specimens such as laurels should be cut with secateurs as hedge trimmers will just slice the leaves and damage the edges which will later turn yellow and brown, creating an undesirable look.
Hedge trimming is a fast way of pruning a hedge but it is also hazardous. When buying a hedge trimmer, it is important to buy one with as many safety features as possible such as blade extensions which prevent the cutting of objects larger than 1 centimetre. The blades should also stop within a fraction of a second of the throttle being released. Two hands should be placed on the hedge trimming device at all times and the urge to clear debris with one hand should always be avoided. Some hedge trimmers come with a device that won’t work, unless both hands are gripped to the machine.
Cupressocyparis leylandii – This is an extremely fast growing and vigour’s choice of hedging – an excellent choice for providing fast screening. This specimen can grow in direct sun light or light shade and can grow up to 3 meters in height in under 6 years.
Taxus baccata – Otherwise known as yew, this is a slow growing evergreen choice of hedging and has dark green leaves, it is a foolhardy and a tolerant specimen and grows in most conditions. It can reach 2 meters tall in 20 years.
Fagus sylvatica – Otherwise known as the common beach, this is deciduous hedging and although it drops it leaves it does a good job of retaining its dead leaves through most of the winter and does a good job of providing a wind break and screening. This has bright green young foliage which turns to a deep green as it matures. After 6 years it can reach a height of 1.3 meters.
Pyracantha – This is an evergreen specimen which produces red berries. Pyracantha favours a sunny position and has sharp thorns which are mildly poisonous. It can reach a height of 1.2 meters in two years.
Berberis x stenophylla – This species forms an attractive wide evergreen hedge and bares clusters of golden flowers in the spring and purple berries in the autumn. It grows in sunlight or light shading and can grow up to 1.2 meters in 3 years.
Escallonia macrantha – This is an evergreen shrub which has deep green leaves and bright red flowers in the summer. Although it is only half hardy, it is resilient to saline winds. This specimen prefers full sunlight and it can grow to a maximum height of 3 metre.