Summer is when hedges, like other shrubs, grow to their fullest extent. That is particularly the case after a warm spring like the one we’ve been experiencing. With temperatures rising due to climate change and disrupted weather patterns, hedges are just one example of maintained shrubbery that you need to keep a close eye on.
Hedges provide habitat and food sources for many kinds of wildlife, including birds and insects. They can also help with land management, giving shelter from strong winds and soaking up excess rainfall. As such, the humble hedge is an essential factor in addressing climate change issues and making your home more eco-friendly.
Reasons to trim your hedge
Any homeowner with a garden hedge has a responsibility to keep it trimmed and in good condition. A hedge is a noticeable feature in the landscape and should be kept looking fresh and attractive. It can be a source of pride and can improve the value of your home. Trimming also helps a hedge to grow at a healthy pace and to stay in shape.
Health and safety
An overgrown hedge can be a health and safety hazard, as parts might fall off, cause obstructions or catch the clothing of those walking on the pavement outside your property. Correct pruning can also remove dead or diseased parts of the hedge. If you’re not confident in trimming your hedge, you can contact tree surgeons in Richmond who will be able to cut it safely for you.
When to cut your hedge
In their first couple of years, new hedges need formative pruning. Deciduous hedges should first be cut back in the winter, while evergreen hedges should be cut in the spring. However, in both cases maintenance trimming should be carried out during the summer: once a year for informal hedges and twice or maybe three times a year for formal hedges.
Always check your hedge for nesting birds before pruning. The nesting season generally runs from March to August, so if you see evidence of nests, you should wait until after this period before trimming.
Tips for trimming your hedge
A pair of hand-held hedge shears are okay for smaller hedges, but for bigger ones, an electric or petrol-powered hedge trimmer may be needed. Keep all equipment sharp and well lubricated and always wear safety goggles and thick protective gloves. Remove all obstacles and make sure you have a sturdy step ladder or platform placed on a flat surface. Don’t use power tools above shoulder height and put the cable over your shoulder to avoid cutting through it.
Formal hedges should be tapered slightly so that the base is wider than the top and light can reach the lower parts of the hedge. This is known as cutting the hedge to a batter. Use taut horizontal string between two sturdy cane poles to ensure a straight cut.
Whatever else you do this summer, make sure you take the time to maintain your hedge. You’ll improve the look of your property and the neighbourhood in general, and you’ll be maintaining an essential environmental resource. A dense, compact hedge will serve you well for many years.