Late spring and early summer is when plant growth is most rapid and vigorous, which is why many hedges and topiaries require regular pruning at this time of year to maintain shape and form. The golden rule is to always cut off as little growth as possible with each successive shearing. This ensures dense, healthy growth and neat, clean cut shapes. Here are a few simple hints and tips to ensure that your hedges and topiaries are maintained in prime condition.
- Select the correct plant types for your climatic and growing conditions.
- Fast-growing plants achieve the desired effect in a short time, but continue to grow vigorously and require more clipping than slower-growing plants.
- When plants with large leaves are clipped the leaves are sheared, which leaves the plant brown and unsightly immediately after cutting. Because of this, plants with smaller leaves generally make better box hedges.
- Wait for soft new growth to harden before cutting.
- Apply fertiliser and mulch to the plants immediately after pruning to maintain healthy growth.
- Always use tools with sharp blades to prevent damage to the plants. Beware of power tools and handle them with due care, adhering to all safety instructions.
- Begin cutting hedges by leveling the top. This can be done by eye or by using a line with a spirit level if necessary.
- After the top has been cut, trim the sides. Again, a taut line may be necessary to ensure that the correct angle is maintained.
- Hedges should be wide at the base and narrower at the top. This will ensure thick lush growth, as sunshine is able to reach most of the foliage. Bare patches are often the result of a lack of sunlight.
- Rake or sweep up all the clippings after the task is complete. These can be added to the compost heap.
Slow-growing evergreens and some deciduous hedges may only need 1-2 clippings per annum. This is best done in late summer. Faster-growing plants in warmer climates may require 4-5 prunings.