Hedges have been a natural barricade, fence line, or boundary used in landscaping for hundreds of years. They are a gorgeous way to shape a landscape or addition to commercial and residential properties alike. Well-shaped hedges are no accident. They are a result of consistent training and trimming once planted as a young plant. It takes about three years for gardeners/arborists to establish growth patterns in hedges.
The first part of establishing a healthy hedge is by selecting appropriate species for your property. Young trees or shrubs that are about a half metre in height with multiple stems are a great starting point. When planting your shrubs, you will want to cut back the growth 15-20 cm. This stimulates low branching. Either late in the first growing season or just before the beginning of the following budding season, cut back about half of the new growth. The following year, you will repeat this procedure: cut back half of the new growth.
The third growing season, you can begin shaping your hedge. Trim your hedge to the desired shape for your landscape before your shrubs gravitate towards their natural size. Never start trimming your hedge once it reaches its natural mature size. You will be fighting an uphill battle to train it as you desire, and it will be too late to stimulate low branching near the base. You will also want to take care to trim your hedges closely and consistently to train them into your desired shape and help keep them that way. There are all kinds of resources available that can provide specific instructions on trimming different types of shrubs and hedges.
When trimming, you want the base to be wider than the top of the hedge. This allows lower branches to receive adequate sunlight, instead of the top branches shading them over. Most hedges are trimmed with tall vertical sides and a flat top. This is quite unnatural and not always successful in the long run. A more natural shape that is either rounded or has a slightly pointed top will have more longevity and be easier to maintain.
Most hedge trimming can be done with scissor-action hedge shears. These cut closer and cleaner than electric hedge trimmers. Electric trimmers often rip and tear twigs, causing damage to the shrub. The last thing you want is for your hedges to be damaged and wounded.
There are many resources out there if you would like to take the hedge shears into your own hands. If you prefer to call in the professionals, we would be more than happy to serve you here at Dynamic Arborist. Our team of arborists are thoroughly equipped in all things pruning and trimming. We hope to hear from you soon with inquiries.