The Best Tools for Hedges
Buzz-cutting borders with electric shears can feel mighty satisfying, but your living fence deserves more. Here, TOH landscape contractor Roger Cook lays out what you need to do the job right
SHEARS Electric shears save time and effort when creating dramatic changes in height or width, or for frequent upkeep of fast growers like privet or yew. Working from the bottom up, shape hedges so they are narrower at the top to ensure that lower branches get enough sun to leaf out.
BYPASS PRUNERS Taking the tips off branches neatens a hedge’s silhouette, but regrowth at the cut line can prevent light from reaching the plant’s interior and cause your hedge to gain in girth season after season. To ensure healthy growth inside and out, use pruners to create holes in your hedge. Remove sections of branches at the joint, making a clean cut at a 45° angle. Space the holes at least 1 to 2 feet apart so shrubs don’t look sparse.
LOPPERS Got a well-established —or simply overgrown—hedge? Shears and pruners can’t handle stems that are more than three-quarters of an inch around. Keep loppers handy to cut back any branches that big. And no matter how overgrown, never remove more than one-third of a single shrub’s branches at any one time.