Posted on Feb 1, 2013
A gardener, whether they are an amateur or not, is likely to say that hedge care is one of their least favourite tasks. It can be laborious, I know, but a well-maintained hedge can be a real centrepiece in a garden, drawing envious glances from visitors and passersby alike. In terms of the laborious aspect of hedge trimming, I think if a gardener has the right equipment, they are less likely to find the job to be a source of frustration. A secateurs, the small hand tool for cutting thin branches, is essential and a gardener should keep the blade sharp. A branch cut with a blunt blade might not grow properly.
Another important item of equipment for looking after hedges are hedge trimmers, which are available as electric or petrol-fired models. The great thing about an electric or petrol model is that removing projecting shoots and keeping the hedge trimmed in a particular way becomes a relatively straightforward task. I would suggest getting a trimmer that is light to handle and well-balanced, for ease of use. It can be exhausting working around a large hedge, trimming it back.
Getting a hedge shaped correctly is not always easy, but a handy tip I have picked up is to use a laser level, like the ones used in construction, to judge the cutting line at the top of a hedge.
It goes without saying that safety is paramount when cutting a hedge, given the nature of the equipment that is being used. I examine a hedge before cutting it, to ensure there are not any items a hedge trimmer can catch on in the course of being used. If only I was so diligent indoors, as certain family members have suggested. Using an electric or petrol-fired trimmer is going to be a noisy affair, so the gardener is not going to be as aware of what is going on around them. So my advice is to ask family members, especially children, not to come near the hedge while the work is going on. Bearing safety issues in mind, the gardener should wear adequate footwear so they do not slip. Gloves and protective eyewear are also good ideas. If I am going to be cutting a hedge from a raised surface, I ensure that it is firmly anchored to the ground.
Watering a hedge is another critical aspect of its care, and this is especially true of dry spells and at peak growing times. The roots of a hedge tend to compete more heavily for water compared to other types of plants. This is because hedging plants tend to be spaced in much closer proximity to each other. I apply mulch around the roots of a hedge once a year as a means of stopping unnecessary water loss from the soil.
Feeding a hedge is essential also, and a general-purpose fertilizer should suffice. To promote leaf growth, I would use a liquid fertilizer, high in nitrogen, and I would apply it whenever the foliage starts to look that bit dull. After all, I want my hedges looking magnificent, just in case the neighbours start to think less of me.