If the hedge bordering your garden is looking rather scraggly, leggy, woody and generally unkempt, you need to fix it. After all, rows of shrubs planted thickly have the potential to make your yard look amazing. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true – if you don’t maintain the area, it will ruin the appearance of the place. If you have decided to go the DIY route and fix the problem on your own, you need to be aware of a few mistakes and avoid them at all costs. Otherwise, you will make matters worse.
Here’s what to look out for:
- Pruning at the wrong time – the best time to prune hedges is late winter, as plants are still dormant and there are no buds. This is a solid guideline, especially if you are cutting back a lot. It is a big mistake to let plants break bud before pruning, as that will take a lot of energy out of the plant when it tries to fill out the hedge. If you have evergreens, prune them early in the season, because they grow slowly anyway. As for flowering shrubs, it is best to wait till all of the blooms are brown. This gives plants more time to set buds for the next season.
- Shearing and not hand-pruning hedges – by using shears to remove branch tips, you ensure the neat and tidy look of hedges, and it also boosts bud production. However, when buds multiply too much, they can thicken the shrub and block sunlight access. Whenever you get to shearing, make use of hand pruners to create space for light and air. The advantage of hand-pruning is that you can reach inside within the hedge and trim a few branches at 45-degree angle, above the leaflet/nub growing in the direction you wish to encourage.
- Maintaining shrubs too wide/tall for their space – if you are only now starting your shrub border, you need to pick plants that grow tightly packed and upright. It goes without saying that the shrubs also need to tolerate shearing and pruning. You should consider the height and width of the hedge before you plant it. You don’t want to fight a constant battle to keep the plants contained.
- Not shaping a top narrower than the bottom – if you leave your hedges unattended, they will widen at the top, since that is where they receive the most sunlight. As a result, the plant will develop a V-shape, which is exactly the opposite of what you should aim for. A well-sheared hedge is one that has a narrow top and wide bottom.
- Growing hedges instead of screen planting – a hedge is not the ideal solution for privacy. If that is what you want, a privacy planting is a right solution for you. Such a screen planting is wide and consists of a mix of shrubs, trees and perennials. Think of hedges as an attractive border of your yard.
When you avoid all of these mess-ups in regards to hedges, you can bet that your garden is going to look great.