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Conquering Hedging Challenges Before Winter

by Joe Cooper, All About Lawns Columnist

Hedges can add a lot to your property, including landscaping structure, texture, improved curb appeal, and even privacy. Covering the basics before you start trimming can help prevent "bad hedge haircuts":

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  • Get schooled on tools. Talk to a landscaper or contractor about your hedging and what tools are best. Using the right tools can make all the difference to your hedges.
  • Measure. It may sounds strange to measure a hedge, but this helps you make as few cuts as possible. Many homeowners know the frustration of "taking just a little more off the top" so many times that the hedge begins to shrink. Use tape to help guide your hedge trimmer.
  • Shape for sunlight. Many homeowners like square or rectangular shapes for their hedges, but consider shaping your hedges with a wider base and a narrower top. This helps ensure the bottom of the hedge receives more sunlight than typical square hedges.

Hedging Challenges

Once you're comfortable with hedge trimmers and have a few "haircuts" under your belt, tackle some hedging challenges using these helpful tips:

  • Tackle thick branches with shears. If a branch is thicker than your pinky finger, some landscapers recommend using handheld shears instead of electric trimmers.
  • Size matters (with leaves). Hedges with smaller leaves (elms, beech, privet, boxwood, etc.) are not as damaged by over-trimming and have a better chance at growing back. Other hedges, like cypress and holly, don't recover so well, so take extra care with these, especially during the colder winter months.
  • Use your hands for tough spots. Using handheld shears for tough spots helps prevent over-trimming, and allows you more flexibility with your cuts.
  • Let overgrown hedges be. If your summer landscaping wasn't quite as diligent as you may have liked and you have a hedge that is severely overgrown, waiting until late winter is sometimes recommended. When you drastically resize a hedge, you need good growing weather to help it recover.

As you approach your hedging, don't forget that you're never alone. For yards with expansive hedging, hiring a landscaping or gardening service can be the best option. A professional should have the right tools and expertise to leave your hedges cut clean and consistently.

About the Author
Joe Cooper writes education, home services, and design articles, and manages corporate communications. He holds a bachelor's in American Literature from UCLA.

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