Healthy Hedge Maintenance

Garden hedges look attractive and are a great way to create a boundary between properties. But many people struggle to maintain a garden hedge, particularly if it’s very high or long. Here are our tips for healthy hedge maintenance.

How often should you cut a hedge?

An established, informal hedge such as traditional privet usually just requires trimming once a year, in summer, to keep it looking neat and under control. If you have more formal or shaped hedges, you will need to cut them more regularly, perhaps three or four times during the spring and summer seasons. Other types of hedges may need more regular cutting, such as Leyland Cypress which grows quickly. And some hedge species should only be cut at certain times of the year, for example a conifer hedge should be trimmed yearly to avoid bare patches. If your hedge borders a public footpath, you have a duty to ensure the hedge doesn’t obstruct the route of pedestrians. Hedges can grow quickly, particularly in summer months, so check your property regularly to make sure your hedge hasn’t become overgrown.

What tools will you need?

How you plan to cut your hedge depends on its size. A small hedge can be managed with hand-held shears while larger hedges are best tackled with electric or petrol hedge trimmers. Always follow the manufacturer’s safety advice when using hedge trimmers and wear safety goggles and gloves to keep you protected. Don’t use electric tools in damp conditions and always ensure you know exactly where the cable is to avoid cutting through it – hook it over your shoulder to keep it out of the way while cutting.

Whether you’re using manual or electric hedge cutters always ensure the blades are sharp and well-lubricated.

For tall hedges you will need a step ladder or platform as you should never use hedge trimmers above shoulder height. Ensure the ground is free from obstacles and make sure your ladder or platform stands securely on the ground.

Caring for wildlife

It’s important to check there are no nesting birds in your hedge before you get busy with the hedge trimmers. In most countries it is an offence to harm or destroy the nest of a bird, either while it is being used or while it is being built. Make sure any chicks have flown the nest before cutting.

Hay fever misery

If you suffer from hay fever, you may find cutting your hedge triggers the symptoms, especially if you are sensitive to privet pollen. If it isn’t possible to get someone else to cut the hedge for you, consult your doctor who might ask you to take an anti-histamine and apply a special balm around your nostrils to prevent the pollen entering. Make sure you take a shower as soon as you’ve finished cutting the hedge to rinse away any pollen that is stuck to your hair and skin.

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