Unlike manmade fences, regular maintenance of hedges is necessary, to ensure plant health and long life.
Prune it right and you can provide the look that you want. Prune it wrong or not at all and your hedges will feature bare spots and may die.
1. Use hedge shears. Certainly, there are a number of tools you might possibly use to trim your hedges. If you have formal hedges — those sheared or pruned to shape — then hedge shears are a must. Look for a pair with an adjustable handle and of steel construction.
2. When to prune. You can prune hedges most any time of the year. The University of Rhode Island Landscape Horticulture Program advises that slow growing hedges be pruned once annually, typically in late spring following its season’s growth. For faster growing hedges, prune them again in Sept.
3. Prune with care. You can shape your old hedges by cutting them back before new growth starts in the spring. Cut them to back to just a few inches above the ground and provide regular shearing later in the year. Repeat this process the following two years. The new growth will be fuller and richer, rejuvenating old hedges that might not have survived otherwise.
4. Consider your evergreens. If your hedges are evergreen, the pruning process is different especially once these hedges have been established. For pine hedges, put the hedge shears away, using only a knife or a hand pruner for maximum results. New buds or growth come from buds already formed, therefore remove only a part of the new growth.
A survey of area landscape may reveal that many of your neighbors are not trimming their hedges right. Hedges may be out of shape, pruned backwards and have multiple dead areas. If the lowest section of the hedge is leafless and can be seen through, then the hedges are not being cared for properly.
You may find that making contact with a master gardener is your best approach before undertaking a hedge trimming job. Your local cooperative extension service may offer classes, providing guidance on how to rejuvenate hedges and care for them year after year, making for good “green fences.