If you're new to trimming hedges or still use hand shears, power hedge trimmers may be intimidating.
Knowing the basics will bring you more confidence and success as you first start out.
Whether trimming an individual shrub or a closely-grown row of shrubs (known as a hedge), it's important to know the do's and don'ts.
Having a plan helps prevent mistakes, and leaves you with beautiful healthy shrubs.
Before you begin, it's important to have the proper safety gear.
Goggles or glasses should be worn to protect your eyes from debris. Gloves and closed-toe shoes should be worn as added protection from the cutting blade.
Long sleeves and long pants should also be worn to protect your skin from flying debris or falling branches.
Pre-Season Prep Work
Prior to new spring growth, you may want to do some pruning. Over time, hedges and shrubs can become overgrown, blocking sunlight from the interior branches.
At the start of each new season, use a pair of sharpened pruning shears to cut out dead, damaged, or crossing branches.
This helps provide more sunlight and ventilation for new growth.
Shaping Your Shrubs
You don't have to be a topiary expert to give your shrubs a pleasant shape. All you need is a good tool and the knowledge of how to use it.
Once the dead and diseased branches have been removed, shake out any remaining debris that's stuck inside the hedge.
Begin at the bottom of the shrub and trim upward, then inward toward the top to trim a smooth taper to round it off. As you work inward, be careful not to trim all of the leaves off a branch. You want some leaves over the outside, but not so many that they block out sunlight.
You want the bottoms of the shrubs to be slightly wider than the top so they get plenty of sunlight.
As you reach the top, sweep sideways at an angle to round the top edge off. This will help to allow more sunlight through from the top during the noon hour.
Then continue around the shrub, always starting at the bottom and moving upward to round off the top edge.
This will give you a balanced shape that allows for healthy growth and optimal sunlight exposure. As it grows, keep an eye on the shrub and trim when necessary, but be careful not to trim too frequently or it may have trouble recovering.