Getting into shape for summer

Gardenwise

No, I’m not suggesting a diet to get you beach fit or bikini beach ready – I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of those over the last couple of months! Now that high summer is here, it’s time to get your hedges into shape if you haven’t done it already, so this week Gardenwise has a few helpful hints to help you hedge your bets and come out on the winning side!

When and how to cut depends on the kind of hedge you have, and sorry to keep banging on about this, but by investing in good garden planning and design early on, you can make sure that you’re planting the type of hedge that will suit you and your garden and do what it’s supposed to do – something you’ll be very glad you did when trimming time rolls around each year. If you find it a chore, at least it’s a job that needs doing once or twice a year for most hedges rather than once or twice a week for lawns. If, like me, you’re lucky enough to have a skilled gardener in the family train them young and treat them well, and trust me, the rewards will be great.

Box hedges should really have been trimmed several weeks ago but do it now if not, watching out for the dreaded box blight which unfortunately is becoming a problem. If you see any signs of it, remove affected areas and bin or burn (don’t add them to the compost heap ), and disinfect shears thoroughly before you touch the rest of the hedge. Beech and hornbeam should be trimmed right about now and remember to allow a very slight slant on either side so that the bottom of the hedge is wider than the top – this is known as cutting “on the batter” and applies to all hedges. It allows air and light to get to the base of the hedge and helps prevent it getting leggy and bare near the ground.

Laurel hedges – the large leaved cherry laurel or Prunus laurocerasus and the smaller Portuguese laurel or Prunus lusitanica – are suitable candidates for a summer trim too. Watch out for the larger cherry laurel as this can grow very large and become unmanageable if not kept in shape, and it’s one I often see wider at the top than at the bottom, which is likely to cause problems later. If you can, trim on an overcast day to prevent freshly cut leaves being scorched by the sun (No irony intended, honestly!! ) and always use good quality shears, sharpened regularly. In larger hedges, watch out for any late nesting birds which might be raising a second brood of the season. And lastly, if you’re using powered hedge trimmers, do stay safe – I want you to read next week’s Gardenwise from the comfort of your own home and not from a hospital bed!

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