Trimming Hedges In Summer – Some Dos and Don’ts

As anyone who has followed this blog knows (my thanks to both of you and the cheque is in the post) hedges and I are not exactly the best of friends.

I don’t intend to give you the impression that I don’t like hedges. Far from it. I love a good hedge me. Hedges are as much a part of the British landscape and our national psyche as Shakespeare, Brunel and The Sweeney (though a little bit less sweary). It’s just I find trimming and maintaining them to be a bit of a chore sometimes and I don’t mind admitting it.

I also believe that all hedges should be straightforward, square lined and stalwart like a well-trained foot-soldier, whereas Mrs Drew wants her hedges to look like some Turner-Prize winning exhibit in the Tate Modern, complete with odd angles, a dubious title and inappropriate animal shapes. A hedge is a hedge madam, not a rampaging elephant or a giant squirrel. Topiary is all very well, and a noble art I am sure, but we are, after all, British and our hedges should be as stiff as our upper lips. They are not merely decorative and green, they are boundaries, lines in the metaphorical sand. They mark the territory of the Englishman’s home and, by inference, castle. So there.

If you insist on using a step-ladder, DO make sure no-one has pinched your hedge.

Anyhow. You may remember my experience with ‘The Privet That Ate New York’, the hedge shaped Triffid which was casting so much shadow in our study last year that Mrs Drew thought the clocks had gone back. Well, I did eventually get round to cutting it back and in the process learnt that standing on a very wobbly step-ladder with a pair of petrol hedgetrimmers as the dusk descends is NOT the way to go. Two inches further when I fell and I would have been flung into the rose bush and Brer Rabbit I am not. TRIM SAFE is all I can say. But more of that later.

Dick’s fine blog on Wednesday extols the virtues of a rather nifty long-reach hedge trimmer (the Mitox 28 LRK Kawasaki Long-Reach Hedgetrimmer at an astounding £349.)  after the wobbly stepladder experience I went out of my way to purchase one. So do bear that in mind as you read my handful of tips on trimming. If your hedges are high, don’t balance on a pile of paint pots, get yourself a long-reach trimmer. 

So. It’s around the time to carry out maintenance on your boxes, your privets and your Hawthorns to name but a few, and chore or not, it has to be done.

Here are my tips.

DO arm yourself with a decent hedgecutter, it doesn’t matter if it’s battery powered, petrol powered or mains electric (although I always find the cables a bind, sometimes literally) as long as it is properly maintained. They should have double-sided, reciprocating blades, a decent cutting length and, preferably, a swivel handle to enable you to cut at different angles.

DON’T use hedgetrimmers you haven’t checked. The blades must be sharp, clean, in good condition and well lubricated.  Blunted blades will be hard to work with and can cause long-term damage to the hedge.

DON’T wear matching clothes that make you look like a camp Christmas elf… and WHERE ARE THOSE GOGGLES?

DO make sure you are wearing the right gear. Please don’t attempt to cut a hedge in flip-flops and a kaftan. First of all, you’ll look like a hippy, secondly, it’s not

safe! Make sure you wear sturdy, flat, shoes, close-fitting clothes and good, tough gardening gloves.

DON’T use a mains powered trimmer if the grass or hedge is wet. You don’t want water on your cables

DO wear goggles. You may not think it important but if a stray twig hits you in the eye you will know it!

DON’T imbibe anything stronger than a cup of tea before trimming your hedges. This is not one of those, “I’ve had a couple of beers I think I’ll trim that hedge” jobs, (they don’t exist) Powered machinery with sharpened blades and alcohol are about as good together as Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn on a date. A&E departments are overcrowded as it is thank you very much. Don’t drink and trim! 

DO check for obstacles like branches or discarded children toys in the grass before you start. You don’t want a trip hazard incident.

DON’T forget to keep the cable over your shoulder and out of the way if you are using a mains powered hedgetrimmer. You don’t want to cut through it

DO make sure you are not too tired to carry out this task. Seriously, fatigue is another contributor to the queues at your local accident and emergency. Be alert, sharp and have your wits about you when you maintain your hedges.

DON’T try to use your standard hedgetrimmer to reach the top of a tall hedge. Your standard powered hedgecutter should NEVER be raised above your head. Try, as I said before, obtaining a good, versatile long-reach trimmer or, if you must use a step-ladder or suchlike, MAKE SURE IT IS STABLE! 

DO try to cut in controlled sweeping movements, keeping the blades of the hedgetrimmer parallel to the hedge. When doing the side, move from the bottom to the top, again using a sweeping motion.

DON’T cut backwards. You should always move forwards along the line of the hedge. I know it sounds silly, but I have seen people do it and walking backwards with powered hedgetrimmers is another disaster waiting to happen.

And short of telling you how to switch on your hedgecutters, which would contravene the egg sucking and Grandmother teaching guidelines set by my employer, that’s about it. Don’t forget that MowDirect has a huge range of quality, affordable hedgecutters available and if you need advice, just call us on 0345 4588 905 and one of our friendly product advisors will be happy to help.

‘FIRST CLASS PRODUCT, ADVICE & CUSTOMER SERVICE… I would not hesitate recommending (sic) this machine or MowDirect to anyone who loves gardening as much as I do.’

‘Fantastic Service… honest and pointed me in the right direction to make sure I got the right tool for the job.’

And you can’t say fairer than that! Enjoy your garden.     Drew Hardy


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