Hedges are showing really vigorous growth at the moment and to look their best they need regular trimming, as a neatly manicured hedge sets off everything else and shows that you have a garden of which you are truly proud.
Exactly what machine you use to trim a hedge depends on what sort of a hedge you have. Small hedges can be trimmed with good old hand shears, and all gardeners should have a pair of these to tidy up the odd scruffy bits without having to get the heavy machinery out of the shed.
It’s all too easy to buy the first hedge trimmer that comes to mind and it will pay to spend some time considering exactly which type you want.
Simple privet hedges and shorter runs can be tackled with an electric hedge trimmer but for the longer runs of hedges and those with thorn or thicker woods like old field maple often found in very old hedges, a heavier petrol-powered model is needed.
Remember that if you have several hedges to care for, a model with a longer cutter bar will save in time and will also make it easier to get a level finish but it may weight more and be more tiring to use over long periods
If the hedges are high then you will certainly need a long reach trimmer to keep the tops in order and you can buy hybrid machines which have long reach shafts and save you buying two hedge trimmers.
Now you’ve decided on the type of trimmer you want what next and you’re ready to start, but don’t just power up the machine and start hacking away - the way to start is at the top – don’t just cut away at the sides.
If you don’t trust your eye, put pegs in at each end of the hedge and string a line between them, then you can cut to the line for a level top.
Decide how tall you want your hedge to be and start at one end and try to get the top as straight as possible keeping the cutter level and moving along in an even sweeping movement along the top just working in one direction.
This can be tiring especially with a stronger petrol powered model, so take frequent breaks as you don’t want to lose control of the machine and cut into the top too deeply.
If the hedge is really overgrown you may want to start by taking the majority of the new growth off and then returning to get that spirit level finish your neighbours will envy.
Stand back and ensure you have the top as neat as possible and then start on the sides, using even to-and-fro sweeping movements and stopping frequently to clear the clippings so you can check the end result.
Aim for an A-shaped hedge with the top slightly narrower than the bottom to help nesting birds and promote stronger growth.
Again, if the hedge is overgrown, you made need to take a modest trim to start and then return to neaten it up with a second cut and remember cutting a hedge takes time. If you rush it you may gouge lumps out and the result will look scruffy.
Above all remember that you can always cut back a bit more, you can’t add bits back on!
Clear away the trimmings straight away otherwise they will impede growth in flower bed and look a mess. Here a good leaf vac blower can save a load of time.
There is a vast array of hedge trimmers from which to choose so don’t just pick the first one which comes to mind. All have something to commend them so read the manufacturer’s performance figures.
Take into account the power of the engines, length of the cutter bar and check on the guarantee, and if in doubt ask for advice.
Hedges need trimming about three times a year between spring and autumn but try to avoid the nesting season.
Remember that the more you trim back a hedge the more you will encourage it to thicken. Never forget, a neatly manicured hedge that looks as if the gardener has been along it with a set square shows off the garden like nothing else.
About the author: A Country Gardener on behalf of www.mowdirect.co.uk