There are many types of shrubs and bushes that can be used to grow a hedge, many of them remaining vital and green all year round, but to keep it looking neat and tidy one has to know how to trim a hedge safely.
This will make sure that the hedge remains a very important addition to the overall design and balance of your garden, complementing stonewalls, patios, lawns and trees. Hedges can be grown as a boundary line or a wind break or even to provide a natural privacy screen. A healthy, well maintained hedge can also go a long way to enhancing the value of your property.
Preparation and effective trimming
Before you start trimming your hedge there are a few things you might want to do in the way of preparation. A good idea is to spread a plastic sheet along the length of the hedge to catch the trimmings, this will make cleaning up easier and quicker. Next check to see that there are no active bird nests in your hedge. If there are you may have to delay for a few weeks. Then manually cut out any dead branches. They might be too heavy for your trimmer to handle.
To avoid a hedge that looks dry and dead along the bottom, always trim the hedge in such a way that the bottom is wider than the top. This way the top won’t cast a shadow on the lower reaches which will now receive enough air and sunlight to remain healthy, luscious and green. This would be especially important if the hedge is around 4 to 5 feet high or higher.
There are three types of trimmers, petrol driven, electric corded and battery powered. The cutting blade ranges from 16 to 24 inches, cutting on both sides. Your choice of trimmer will depend on the size of the hedge, accessibility, personal preference and cost.
The petrol driven trimmers would use a two-stroke motor which uses a mix of fuel and oil, usually in the ratio of 50/1. Check the owner’s manual for instructions and safety tips. These machines are quite heavy and noisy and are able to cut through fairly thick branches. They are also mobile so you can go right down to the bottom of the property without worrying about extension cables.
At the other end of the spectrum is the corded electric trimmer. This trimmer by contrast is very quiet, much lighter and easier to handle. There are no worries about mixing fuel and oil, changing plugs, no pull cord and no exhaust fumes. Ideal for the smaller garden or smaller hedges as you are limited by the length of the electric cable.
The best cordless hedge trimmers present the best of both worlds. They are portable, you can take them anywhere on the property regardless of power points and cables. There are no concerns about petrol and oil, and they are even quieter than corded trimmers. The power and performance are directly related to the size of the battery which can range from 18 to 56 volts. The bigger the batteries the higher the cost and the heavier the machine, so again your needs and circumstances will determine your choice.
You have chosen the appropriate trimmer, done all the preparations, but before you start be aware of the following safety rules.
- Clothing: Always wear goggles to protect the eyes, and a good strong pair of gloves, long sleeve shirt, long trousers and closed shoes.
- Check the work area for any obstacles that you may trip over, such as hose pipes, wires or wooden pegs that may be hidden by the hedge. Be careful when using a ladder, never lean the ladder against the hedge. If the hedge is too tall use a long reach extension.
- Finally ensure that there are no children or pets around to distract you, and if using a corded trimmer, keep the cord over your shoulder to prevent cutting through it by mistake.