When trimming the hedge
Just take a vacation and push aside the guilty conscience
When is it exactly you should trim the hedge? According to old traditions, you should trim before Midsummer’s Day and you can still do that, but it’s an old myth that Midsummer’s Day is supposed to be the best time to trim, seen from the hedge’s point of view.
The leaves on a hedge help provide nutrients and strength to the hedge and ensure a good and well-developed root system. The earlier you trim the hedge the more strength you trim off. The hedge is fully developed in mid-July when the leaves have had some time to contribute, which is their purpose. In other words, you should not have a guilty conscience if you haven’t trimmed the hedge by the time of Midsummer’s Day.
Most people have a privet hedge because it grows fast, is easy to trim and is thick all year round.
Besides what is healthy for the hedge, there are other important practical and aesthetic factors. The trimming time might depend on how minimalistic it should be or how far it should exceed the perimeter. If you trim it in late June you can control it, but you still have to trim again later in the year. If you wait until mid-July, you can settle for trimming only once. The downside is that you need to trim a lot.
A newly planted hedge should grow into the height you wish and then be trimmed 8 inches below the desired height. You can trim the sides every year. Remember when granddad used to trim down the newly planted hedges every year for it to get thick. That method is not used anymore because the plants are now tailored in thickness at the nurseries.
It takes practice to get the perfect result when trimming the hedge, but it is not more difficult than you can learn it in a few seasons.
Typically, you make three mistakes. The biggest mistake is when you don’t trim the hedge enough, so it ends up too wide or too high. Next is when you end up trimming the hedge, so it narrows down in the bottom and widens in the top. Finally, many trims the hedge uneven, so it looks like waves. A wild hedge should be trimmed back so much that it is almost not pretty anymore. That is both the top and sides. Otherwise, it gets too wide and tall.
The old privet hedge that is open and bad can be trimmed down completely. For example, 8-12 inches above the ground. It will grow back in 2 years, top 3 years. Do it in February. If it is too wide, then trim one side in February and wait for next February to trim the other side.
Start trimming from the bottom and up. Make sure the hedge is its widest at the bottom and narrows in at the top. 15-20 inches in the bottom and 12-16 in the top is most fitting. Then the sun will shine all the way through, and it won’t get knocked over that easily when it snows.
You only get an even hedge if practising. Otherwise, you can use a string to follow. It is always a good idea to take a step back and look at your work, then you can quickly correct mistakes if it goes wrong.
If you have difficulties trimming even, you can trim the privet hedge like the one behind the garden pond.
Photo: Grøn Kommunikation
You can of course plant hedges in tall pots if you don’t want to wait for years to get the desired height. You can also buy a hedge that already has the height you wish. A thriving finished hedge can be bought in different sorts.
Om Lars Lund
Danish horticulturist and journalist
Lars Lund has for many years engaged in the garden and greenhouse. Lars has published many books about greenhouses, and he has participated in many Danish horticultural TV shows. He is a walking garden encyclopaedia, and he has answers for most basic cultivation questions – also the more ambitious ones.