Tips for Shrub and Hedge Trimming

What started out as a few wild branches poking of your front lawn bushes, has transformed into an untamed monster threatening to attach itself to your house’s siding and consume the back edges of your lawn. We know the temptation is strong to just fire up the gas chainsaw, put on a menacing face, and wildly go on a hacking rampage in hopes to defeat this feral beast. Please refrain. Your own limbs and house will thank you later. Instead, we would like to provide you with a less aggressive alternative that will accomplish the same end goal but with less blood.

Know What Your Goal Is

Whether it is just to trim back back some overgrown branches, practice your topiary skills, or do a complete overhaul on the overgrown shrubbery, it’s important to understand the best methods to getting the job done based on the plant you are working with.

This understanding will help you stay motivated for the task at hand, because bush and hedge trimming takes much patience and focus to accomplish well. The job is deceptively time-consuming, so as you are going along on it, work with intent, having an image of what the plant should look like after you’re done. It will aid you in this task.

For instance, if you have a small yard to work with, but are looking to increase the amount of planting space available to you without sacrificing the large shrubs and bushes you have, using a methodology called “limbing up” on the shrubs will be incredibly useful to you.

This technique involves removing the lower layer of the shrub and clearing out the area underneath it to give it a tree-like appearance. You can then fill that empty lower shelf with a diverse selection of smaller plants to provide more depth and variety to an otherwise dull and limited space.

You also want to make sure you cut the branches of your shrub on a 45-degree angle slant. Just as when watering your grass at night invites the standing water to produce cultures of diseased grass and fungus, cutting your shrubs flat-top leaves the potential for water to catch in the shrub when it rains to also increase the potential for fungal growth. The water, however, skates off the slanted cuts better.

The Tools Needed

To complete most pruning and trimming projects, it’s good to have a small repertoire of tools depending on the size and extent of what you’re trying to accomplish. There is no hard and fast rule, but typically larger bushes and hedges demand larger and stronger tools. Smaller plants, like most shrubs, conversely require smaller, mechanical tools to trim them back. Keeping them sharp and clean is a must for them to be as effective as they possibly can.

On the smaller end of the spectrum, use:

– Pruning shears
– Loppers for branches up to 2 inches thick
– A small curved saw for much thicker branches

On the larger end of the spectrum, use:

– Safety goggles to protect your eyes from flying debris
– Some hand shears or loppers to start out with
– A hedge trimmer to cover larger surface areas quickly

Where To Start

Especially when it’s overgrown, you’ll be able to quickly identify any plants growing out of the shrub or hedge that that are hostile in nature. Remove those first, since they are diverting necessary nutrients meant for your shrub or hedge to themselves.

Then, for renovation-style pruning, start by removing 1/3 of the older stems as you’re working through the shrub or hedge to allow sunlight to access the interior of the plant to encourage new growth throughout the season.

And instead of cutting in the middle of branches to trim or prune them, find the point right above where a branch splits off in a Y-shape, and cut there. Right below that intersection of the two branches is a new growth area that will allow the branches to heal a lot quicker from the trimming process.

Maintaining Your Shrubs and Hedges

Finally, it is important to make sure you trim your shrubs and hedges at the appropriate time each season to make sure that you maximize the new growth to keep the plants full and attractive. This is dependent on the type of plant, but for non-flowering plants (like hedges and bushes) especially, you should only trim after new growth has appeared. And plants that flower in the summer should be trimmed during their bookend seasons of late Fall and early Spring.

But as we all know, no matter how hard you will the shrub or hedge to stay the same length for the rest of the season after you successfully trimmed it, this isn’t a one-and-done type of task.

However, our professional team at Stagreen is well-versed in proper shrub and hedge care and can responsibly nurture them all season long so that your valuable time and energy is not spread too thin. Let us know what type of landscaping projects you’re looking to tackle this season, and we’ll recommend the best course of action that will support your objectives.