Hedges are supremely functional and come in such different varieties that there’s probably a hedge for every gardener out there.
Hedges can define boundaries, offer privacy, act as a backdrop for other plants, draw attention to an area or even trimmed as showpieces (such as mazes). Some hedges are flowering; others aren’t. Even with the variety, one thing remains true for all hedges: They must be pruned. Here’s how:
- Choose a plant that’s known for being a great hedger. Popular plants include boxwood shrubs, English holly, juniper and privet. Ask your gardening centre about what hedging plant is right for you.
- When hedge plants are young, they tend to respond better to shaping so begin trimming hedges when they are first planted to encourage growth and trim a few inches off the top so that they become bushy.
- Hedges should be pruned so that they’re wider at the base than the top. This helps to keep them healthy because the entire plant has access to enough sunlight this way.
- To ensure that you’re cutting the tops in a straight light, plant stakes at either end of your hedge and run a string between the two. The string can then act as a guide. If you want your hedges to be of varying heights, then you’ll need to establish a series of stakes and strings. Be patient, though, because even though setting up your grid may take longer than the actual trimming itself, you’ll get the best results.
- Trim as often as needed during the growing season but taper off as winter draws near. This will help keep your shrubs healthy during the winter months.