Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Hedges ‘should be treated with care’

Winter looks like it is finally getting itself behind us as climate conditions start to improve and flowers start to bloom in time for spring.

This is a wonderful time of year to be a gardening enthusiast, as it is when there is suddenly a great deal more to do after the colder season – which is largely characterised by maintenance and plant protection.

However, tasks still need to be carried out with a degree of care – especially when it comes to things like hedgerows.

The UK gardening charity the Royal Horticultural Society advises against trimming after August – particularly when it comes to conifer hedges. It also emphasises the importance of checking that there are no birds nesting in the green space.

This is so as to avoid running the risk of inflicting any damage on the nests or wild birds while they are making use of the area. Although we are now at the other end of the year, this advice clearly still applies.

Celebrity gardener Alan Titchmarsh also warned gardeners to be careful not to go overboard on hedge trimming. In an article for UK national newspaper the Daily Telegraph, he suggested holding out on excess cutting until later in the year.

“[Hedges] would be better left uncut until early autumn when the wild-flower seed has been shed to ensure next year’s blooms. Then they could be trimmed just the once and the hay taken off,” he commented.

Indeed, the expert also noted that the wildlife can also benefit from a hedge that is not too severely cut back, particularly “with the rapid reduction in both butterfly and hedgehog numbers over the past few years”.

However, this does not mean that no action should be taken whatsoever. Damian Mitchell – the gardener in charge of Lytes Cary Manor -recently said that February is the ideal time to make a start on hedge trimming.

One of his top tips was to start cutting from the bottom of the hedge upwards, using the lower section of the shears for those who are using handheld varieties.

The expert added that by hand is his own preferred method, as it takes more time. This means that the individual is able to spot any problems that need addressing as they are come across.

Furthermore, it is easier to construct a straight line – and this is easy enough to achieve by being careful and observant.