Cutting hedges: The most important tips

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Most hobby gardeners cut their hedges once a year around St. John's Day (June 24). Experts of the Saxon State Institute for Horticulture in Dresden-Pillnitz have shown in several years of experiments: Almost all hedge plants grow more uniform and dense, if they cut back already mid to late February for the first time to the desired height and width and the beginning of summer a second, weaker Followed by pruning.

Hedges cut in February

The advantages of the early cut date: The shoots are not yet properly in the juice in early spring and therefore tolerate the pruning better. In addition, the bird breeding season has not started, so you do not run the risk of destroying the newly created nests. After the early pruning, the hedges need a certain amount of regeneration time and often do not get through properly until May. Until then, they look very accurate and well-groomed.

Hedges cut in June

Around June, there will be a second pruning in June, during which one leaves about one third of the new annual impulse. A stronger cut is not recommended at this time, because you would rob the hedges too much substance otherwise. By contrast, with the remaining new leaves, they can build up enough nutrient supplies to make up for the loss. For the remainder of the year, the hedge is left to grow in peace and then cut back to its original height in February.

Spring flowering hedges do not cut in spring

Cut hedges from spring flowering plants such as forsythia or blood plums are not cut in February, but waiting for the flower. With early pruning you would reduce the flowering unnecessary. A possible second cut should not take place after the St. John's Day, because the trees then no longer apply new flower buds for the next year. As a rule, however, these shrubs are usually cut with one cut every year.

The right cutting profile for hedges

Cutting profiles hedge trimming

The best form for all hedges has been the so-called trapezoidal profile with a wide base and a narrow crown. The sloping side surfaces have the advantage that the lower leaves can capture enough sunlight

In any case, avoid that the hedge is narrower at the bottom than above! Cut them too narrow down, shading them themselves. This can easily happen because the top branches naturally grow stronger than the bottom ones. But if the lower leaves get too little light, they will lose their hardness over time. Species such as tree of life (Thuja) and cypress do not go out again in these places and remain brown. On the other hand, if the hedge gets a trapezoidal shape, it does not chop off so quickly on the foot. In addition, one should lean the hedge width on the natural growth of the respective plant when cutting. For example, a shrub such as the cherry laurel needs more volume than a treelike hedge plant like the hornbeam.

This is how the cut becomes straight

A simple trick helps to cut the hedge crown straight: Orient yourself on an auxiliary line by placing two bars at the side of the hedge and stretching a line at the desired height. For freehand cutting, avoid dents and hills in the horseshoe crown by holding the hedge trimmer with both arms exactly level and making slight pivoting movements from the back. The more you move your arms, the more uneven the cross-sectional image usually becomes. When cutting the hedge flanks, stand with one side of the body next to the hedge, so that you look in the direction of the still uncut hedgerow end. You should hold the electric hedge trimmer parallel to the hedge with your arms straight and swing it up and down in regular movements from the shoulders.

Put old hedge bushes on the stick

Most hedges of shrubby deciduous shrubs such as cherry laurel, barberry, hawthorn or privet can be rejuvenated if necessary, by cutting them back to the old wood. The ideal time for deciduous shrubs is the early spring before foliage emergence, for evergreen early summer, such as at the time of the regular hedge trimming. However, to ensure that the plants drive out again safely, the accompanying circumstances must be right - these include above all a bright location and a good water supply. Use a saw to cut all the main branches of the plants down to 30 centimeters above the ground. The new shoot should be trimmed at least by next spring at least a third of its length, so that the hedge is again tight.Note that in slow-growing species, such as the boxwood, it can take a few years for the tapered hedge to be handsome again.

Rejuvenate single-hedge hedgerows

So brachial cutting measures as in hedgerows are usually not necessary in tree-like hedge plants. Nevertheless, it happens that, for example, you take over an old garden with a hedge which has gone very far and would like to bring it back into shape. Then it's time for a rejuvenation cut.
Because of their high regenerative ability, most treelike hedge plants such as field maple, red beech and hornbeam tolerate such rejuvenation well. In order to preserve the plants as much as possible, proceed as follows in unkempt, older, summer-green hedges: In the early spring of the first year, cut all side branches back with a pruning shears or a tree saw on the top and on a flank so that only still stubs with slight branching stand still. In the second year, it's the other flank's turn. The benefit of this gradual rejuvenation is that the plants on one side always have enough leaves and therefore better cope with pruning.

Rejuvenate hedges

In the first year, the right side of the hedge was rejuvenated (see left hedge). In the second year the back cut of the left side took place (see right hedge)

From the so-called sleeping eyes push the stumps again strong. Some hedge plants, however, take quite a lot of time to regenerate and only show fresh green again in the summer. This is no cause for concern as the plants need time to activate their "sleeping eyes".

Shape unkempt coniferous tree hedges

Coniferous tree hedges are not very cut tolerant in contrast to most deciduous shrubs. They do not re-emerge from the un-needled branch parts if they have been cut back too far. Therefore, always remain in the "green zone" for all cutting measures in the case of life trees or false cypresses, but also in pines and spruces.
However, a moderate cut for height regulation is possible with all conifers: the truncated trunks are overgrown over time by the fresh sprouting of the lateral branching and the hedge is slowly resealed from above. However, the flanks may only be cut back as far as the needle attachment. Needleless stubs do not drive anymore. The only exception is the yew: it even forms fresh green shoots directly from the trunk.

Close holes and gaps in the hedge

Who is not annoyed when the appearance of the hedge is clouded by gaps? There are several ways that you can remedy such blemishes: Smaller holes in deciduous tree hedges such as hornbeam, boxwood and privet or coniferous tree hedges such as tree of life and cypress close relatively quickly, if the site is sufficiently exposed. If in doubt, remove the branches of adjacent trees if they throw too much shadow on the hedge.

Close gaps and holes in hedges

By redirecting shoots you can mend unsightly spots and ugly holes in the hedge. Attach the shoots to thin bamboo sticks and cut all the tips

Greater gaps disappear faster as you guide the adjacent shoots along a bamboo stick horizontally or diagonally across the open space. If you also trim the shoot tips a bit, you will start the branch and the gap will soon be gone.

Video Board: Hedge trimming how to get that straight edge.How to trim a hedge.

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