Hedge Shaping and Hedge Trimming Services Melbourne
There’s something satisfying about trimming a hedge – until you step back and realise that it’s all just a bit wonky
Hedge shaping and trimming is a horticultural art form. While we’d all like to embrace our inner Edward Scissorhands, learning how to trim or shape a hedge correctly takes years of practice, an eye for detail and more than an ounce of patience.
What do you need to know about trimming and shaping a hedge?
Before you sharpen the shears and let loose, there are three key things you should know, prior to starting the annual trim and shape.
When to trim or shape your hedge?
Most hedges are best trimmed just as you’re coming out of the Melbourne winter and before the start of the spring growth. As most plants lie relatively dormant throughout the colder months, reducing their foliage at this time causes the least amount of stress.
If your hedge is deciduous (it drops all of its leaves in winter), shape while the branches are bare and before the start of new leaf buds or flowers.
If your hedge is evergreen, you can shape at any time, however, you must be aware of how much foliage you remove: In summer, no more than 10%, winter you can remove up to 30%.
How to trim or shape your hedge?
Young trees respond better to regular trimming or shaping. Not only does it encourage new growth, but it also removes any branches that may develop deadwood through the tree’s natural detoxification process.
When shaping your hedge, always try to keep the top slightly tapered as this allows the bottom of the hedge to receive sunlight for balanced photosynthesis.
If you’re after a straight edge, set string lines as a guide so you have something to follow.
What can go wrong with hedge shaping and hedge trimming?
Trimming your hedges at the wrong time of year will stress the plant, leading to stunted growth or make it more susceptible to infection and disease. All deciduous plants should be trimmed when they have bare branches.
Not all species of hedging plants like to have a hard or hefty cutback. On certain species, e.g. conifers, cutting back the hardwood will often cause such damage to the plant that it’s not unusual for them to die. Until you know your garden well, or if you’re working with established trees, it’s better to do several smaller trims overall, than one massive shape at the beginning of the season.
Don’t trust your eye to keep your straight edges in line. Even the most experienced horticulturalists use a string line. Quick growing hedging plants can be more forgiving if their trim ends up lopsided, but slow growers like English Box will have you looking at your mis-cuts for many years to come.
And lastly, make sure you clean and sharpen your hedge trimmers or shears before you start the job. You want to make sure you have clean cuts to prevent infections and clean blades to prevent the spread of disease.
If you’re unsure of the species of plant used in your hedge, take a photo and send it to us and we’ll help you identify it.
What are decorative hedges?
There are four main type of decorative hedges. These can be used to visually define areas of a garden, as a feature or centrepiece, or incorporated into the design. The four main types are:
Most people are familiar with hedges in formal English gardens. While traditional Box is slow growing, there are many other plants that can be used.
From balls on sticks to spirals to animal shapes, topiary trees used as hedges add a certain look to a garden. But be ready for the upkeep – regular hedge shaping is required to keep these looking their best.
Used to maximise wall space and sun exposure in small gardens, espaliered trees make for an elegant display. Often using fruit trees, the hard work in developing the shape is paid off with an abundant crop.
Also known as the hedge on stilts, pleached hedges can be used to create arbours, tunnels or arches. Common in French garden design, these days, garden centres are selling ready-pleached trees. Again, regular maintenance is required to keep them looking at their best.
What are functional hedges?
Functional hedges use closely planted trees or bushes to fulfil a function other than decoration. Although nice to look at, their primary purpose can be:
Originally used to protect horticultural crop fields, wind barriers are now used on larger properties to provide wildlife habitat, reduce soil erosion, and reduce dust and noise for homes, gardens, crops, pasture, orchards and livestock. Regular trimming is required to ensure the plants grow at the same speed and in a suitable shape.
When you don’t want to keep painting the old fence at the bottom of the garden or need to create a barrier between properties. Ideally, you want a fast-growing native that will take form and function quickly, but to produce the denseness required, it will require regular trimming in its early years.
When you don’t want the neighbours or passers-by being able to see into the property. Heights and widths of plants will vary and selecting the right species to do the job is important; you don’t want on-going maintenance issues with invasive root systems etc. Again, you want a fast-growing tree develops its shape quickly, with regular trimming required to keep them looking at their best.