Hedge cutting is a skilled job. Done well it can add kerb appeal to your home and garden. In this blog we look at hedge cutting, how it benefits the plants, the property and the environment. We also offer up some hints and tips on getting good results.
A garden hedge serves more than one function. At its simplest level it marks a boundary, defines and area and creates a barrier between two areas. But it’s more than that. The size, shape and condition of a hedge says something about the homeowner who lives behind it. It can offer privacy and screening or it can simply encourage passers-by to admire your beautifully maintained lawn and garden.
Large or small, tall or short, a neatly trimmed hedge is an asset to any garden. It can provide privacy and shelter the garden from high winds or it can frame and define part of the garden
Just like a lawn, a well maintained hedge can really set off a garden. It may not be the focal point but it allows the eye to focus on other garden features. A badly maintained hedge (or lawn) does just the opposite. It brings the whole garden down.
Don’t forget too that a hedge absorbs noise – so it’s an ideal buffer between your garden and a busy road. It also filters dust and pollution from the air, sucks in carbon dioxide and releases oxygen. It often provides a much needed home for wildlife (think nesting birds, hedgehogs etc.) and, depending on what plant species your hedge is made from, can offer spring flowers and autumn berries to benefit the bees and the birds.
A hedge is a truly wonderful thing. But, like most wonderful things, the better it is maintained, the more benefits it has to offer.
Getting it right with hedge cutting
Have you ever been advised to nip the growing tips out of your bedding plants to encourage the plants to “bush up”? Well trimming a hedge works on exactly the same principal. Yes, of course it’s about neatness and tidiness. But it’s also about creating a row of really dense, bushy plants that looks fabulous. In some ways, your hedge is the vertical equivalent of your lawn, the better it’s trimmed and maintained, the finer it looks.
The cutting regime has to be tailored to the plant species.
Some species of hedge plant are naturally quite bushy – privet for example. After trimming it will readily shoot out from growth nodes on the branches. Others have a very different growth habit.
Copper beech for example, if left too much to it’ own devices has quite a loose, open structure, it needs to be trimmed at least once a year to encourage lots of smaller branches that will give it that tight, neat appearance.
Our old friend leylandii makes a brilliant hedge if it’s not allowed to get too rampant. But, if it’s cut back too much at once it will look like a row of brown stumps.
Laurel is another beautiful hedge plant but it does have big leaves. Trimming it with the wrong tools can sever the leaves. Leaving them looking a bit strange afterwards. Laurel needs a more gentle approach if it is to look good.
This high hedge in Glengormy needs to be a uniform height. A precise cut is essential because the fence already creates a perfectly horizontal line.
If the hedge was any different there’d be no disguising the mistake.
Why precision matters
What matters most in a premier hedge is the visual effect. No matter whether it is a low box hedge or 3 metre yew partition, when it’s trimmed neatly and precisely it looks amazing. Done poorly it can take years for the hedge to recover.
Most of my customers ask for a very precise, rectangular hedge with a flat top with either vertical or and slightly sloping sides (the slope allows every part of the plant to see the sun and works well for native hedging such as hawthorn). For a hedge to look its best, it needs to have thick leaf cover from the top right down to the ground.
I like to think I have a good eye for a straight line (it’s all that mowing stripes into lawns) but for anyone who’s inexperienced at hedge cutting it’s easy to end up with one end slightly taller than the other. If you want to cut your own hedge and you’re not 100% confident you can get a straight line, my advice would be to set up guide lines. A bit like a linen line strung across the top of the hedge at the height you want it to be.
Why ask a professional to trim your hedge?
The health and safety implications of hedge cutting are quite vast. Modern hedge cutting tools can do a lot of damage to human flesh – much more than the old fashioned hand shears. Personal safety equipment is vital but expensive which actually means it’s cheaper to hire a professional than it is to invest in all those tools and equipment.
If your hedge is taller than 1.2 metres (4 ft.) or chest height, it’s really tiring to work with your arms up for long periods of time. So you need to be working off ladders or scaffolding. Working at heights carries all kinds of risks and again, there’s that financial investment in equipment to think about.
When the work is done, you’ll be left with a big heap of clippings. What will you do with them? Woody clippings don’t compost well unless you have a garden shredder that is strong enough to deal with them. Neither do they burn – unless of course they are dried first. So you are left with the option of putting them in your compost bin for the council to collect – which could take weeks if you have a lot of clippings. The team at Premier Lawns NI are rather good at clearing up after themselves so you don’t have the worry of it.
Hedge cutting generates quite a lot of green waste. Premier Lawns NI include the cost of removing the waste in the quotation so you don’t have to worry about it.
Wouldn’t it be cheaper to trim my hedge myself?
It’s that old adage isn’t it? Some people are reluctant to hire professional help with a job they think they can do themselves. And I can relate to that.
I know a lady who felt that same way about dog grooming. She thought that it looked easy and by doing the job herself she would save herself £250 a year. It took her hours to bath and clip the creature. At the end of it all her kitchen was ankle deep in dog hair and her poor pooch looked as though it had been trimmed with a knife and fork. She ended up with the embarrassment of asking a professional to put right her mistakes.
There’s no substitute having help from somebody who is trained, experienced and has the right tools for the job. It’s quicker, easier, and less messy and you are more likely to be pleased with the results.
If you would like help with hedge trimming, give me a call and we can chat about Premier Lawns services. I’m a trained horticulturist with a proven track record of creating perfectly straight hedges. I’m also not afraid of heights or of overgrown vegetation!
We cover Carrick, Greenisland, Newtownabbey, Glengormley, Belfast for hedge cutting.