Clipping or Trimming Garden Hedges – Hedging Plants

yew hedge - hedging plants

Informal hedges will not need to be so severely trained as the more formal clipped kinds. As with most other things in life, hedge distinctions are not always clear cut. However, a formal hedge is one which at some time or another is trimmed closely with shears or a powered hedge trimmer. Although they are kept strictly under control one should not assume they are cut often but they must be cut regularly. In some cases this means once a year only. Flowering and informal hedges are trimmed or cut by secateurs unless otherwise stated.

It is sometimes enough that an informal hedge is cut — carefully of course — for stems for flower arrangement. In this case one need not religiously observe the cutting dates, for obviously a continual, rather than a seasonal, supply of cut material is needed. But my advice is to distribute the cutting, taking a stem from here and there and not all in one place.

Times for clipping and cutting hedging plants are based on the seasons in which the plant involved makes its new growth. Unwise and untimely clipping can result in injury to the plant. What often happens is that young shoots are encouraged to grow at a time in the year when they become frosted. So it is important to observe trimming dates.

There are a few general rules. Newly planted hawthorn and privet should receive a first clipping in June, a second six weeks later in mid-July, and one more in September. After this, follow the given dates.

Not all hedging plants should be clipped. Some plants look very ugly after being sheared this way — the large-leaved laurels and holly are examples.

In the following notes on hedge culture I use the term “pruning” when secateurs are to be used, and “clipping” when shears or a power trimmer may be employed. Excessive trimming can damage or even kill a hedge. Certain evergreens, particularly conifers, are affected this way.

Not all hedges are intended as outer boundaries nor as dense screens. Generally speaking the hedges above 4 feet are for external boundaries or for large gardens. I believe that most gardeners will find more suitable hedges in the sections on informal types. Often hedging plants are used to divide one section of the garden from another. At other times their use is purely decorative. A low hedge can give the essential finish to certain parts or features of a garden. A walk or a path can be made prettier, even more romantic, or intimate if flanked by a hedge on one side or both.

Where a grassed or some other covered area joins a different part of the garden a low hedge, which need not necessarily be a straight one, makes a logical link. Where parts of the garden are of different heights, a low hedge helps to lead the eye along one level to another.

Such hedge plants can be formal and precisely clipped, the traditional yew “walls” are examples, but informal types consisting of plants which demand the minimum of attention will relieve the gardener of a great deal of labour. These can be highly decorative and colourful.

Informal hedges can be very low, not much more than ground covers, or they can be tall enough to block the view of the kitchen garden, shed or compost heap.

26. September 2010 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Boundaries - Hedging, Fencing, Gardening Ideas | Tags: , | Comments Off on Clipping or Trimming Garden Hedges – Hedging Plants


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