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Top landscaper reveals all: How to trim the perfect hedge.

Updated on May 7, 2011
How to trim a hedge
How to trim a hedge

It's not you. It's me.

Ah, that dreaded break up line. Everyone knows what road the rest of that conversation is going.. To Dumped-ville. When it comes to having a crappy looking hedge the reverse of this saying is always true.

Its not them. It's YOU! If your hedge looks more like Betty White than it does Cindy Crawford then you almost certainly are at fault. Not the plants. Don't worry though 'cause I've got a bit of experience in creating great hedges.

Actually you could say I'm addicted.. Very, very addicted.

Yes, I'm a little bit O.C.D, (Obsessive-compulsive disorder,) about my hedges. If I am going to have a hedge in my garden then it's got to be perfect. Not okay. Not good. But Perfect. Now as you can imagine this has led me to learn a few things about how to create the perfect hedge. Today I will share a few of my secrets to see if I can spread my "Perfect Hedge Disease" to you.

Go for the young ones.

Hold on, hold on. Before you pick up the phone and call the police let me explain what I mean. Buy young, small plants. These will always give you a better hedge because you can cut the center out of your plants. Doing this will encourage a lot of new branches to sprout out from lower down. Which in turn will give you a lovely thick bush.

Ever come across a hedge that has a lot of hollow bits down towards the ground? Well I'll bet you a strawberry milk shake it's because they bought large plants with one central trunk, or they planted a small plant without cutting the center out of it.

Little and often is the golden rule.

As your plants grow, never wait for your hedge to get to the ideal height before you clip it back. If you do this you will end up with a hedge that is more see through than a politician's election promises. Lightly cut back the tips of any new branches and they in turn will send out even more branches.

Depending on what plant variety you have and the weather patterns in your area you might need to clip back your hedge any where from once every couple of weeks to once every four months. Any longer period than this is probably going to be to long to achieve a perfect hedge.

Give them some steroids.

Well don't actually do that. What I really should have said is keep your garden well fed . On established hedges, (plants that have been in the ground for over a year,)I use a slow release fertilizer that is high in nitrogen once every six months.

In addition to that I use liquid fertilizer regularly. Some times up to once a week in the spring time. Seaweed based fertilizers are my favorite because not only do they feed your plants but they also condition your soil. They attract worms and good bacteria to hang around which in turn feeds your plant even more. Talk about double dipping!

For plants that have been in the ground for less than a year it is a good idea not to go for a slow release fertilizer that is higher phosphorus and not so much nitrogen. This will encourage more root growth, which obviously is the life blood of any shrub. Strong and healthy roots mean a strong and healthy tree.

Power! Power! Give me more POWER!

When it comes to equipment, nothing beats a petrol powered hedge trimmer. For a great looking hedge never use the electric trimmers. Quite frankly, they down right suck! I find that they lack the power needed to get a sharp straight edge.

When choosing your trimmer I specifically recommend the long handle type. They will make it ten times easier to keep things even and straight. There are a few different brands out on the market and I have tried many of them. The best by a long shot is the "Sthil" brand name. They have more grunt, give you less problems and are normally lighter than most other brands, (Which after ten minutes of trimming makes a huge difference to your shoulders.) I use them all the time in my lawn care business.

What Hedge trimmer do you think gives the best cut?

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