Hedges - keeping them tidy
Hedges look great, create shelter and privacy, but need maintenance!
Late summer is a good time to look at your hedges and decide if they need some trimming and maintenance. Decide on the height you want the hedge - maybe use a string line to keep straight. Or for the more adventurous - try a topiary? Use sharp secateurs for minimal pruning and a hedge trimmer for larger sections - making sure you have the right safety equipment in place.
Hedges can divide into three types - evergreen, deciduous or flowering.
Evergreen hedges - such as yew, box or holly create all year boundaries. Plants benefit from trimming back by 1/3 on planting to encourage growth. A light trim in the first year will also help. In following years it is possible to trim these to your desired size or shape.
Deciduous hedges - such as beech and hornbeam will lose their leaves in winter. Plants will benefit from trimming back to 1 foot (30cm) on planting and from a light trim in the first year. Following years will require regular trimming to keep in check. More solid branches will need trimming with loppers or secateurs - your hedge trimmer will not appreciate them!
Flowering hedges such as rosa rugosa, lavender and hawthorn tend to be more informal and can be trimmed as required. Harvest lavender in August before trimming the bushes more thoroughly.
Always check before cutting that you are not disturbing nesting birds! Avoid bare patches in hedges with regular small trimmings rather than an annual big cut.
Hedge trimmings can be extensive - so how do you manage them? Small quantities of cuttings could be chopped up and used as a mulch, either under the hedge or in the garden. Chunkier or larger amounts would benefit from passing through a shredder. They could then be mixed with grass cuttings on the compost heap to help them decompose faster, or they could be put in a seperate area to compost slowly. Thicker branches can be piled up to make a 'bug shelter', shredded or taken to a green waste collection point.
Enjoy your garden.