Many deciduous and evergreen shrubs, which after cutting become dense and compact, can be used as hedges.
Hedges with a strictly defined shape need regular restrictive pruning. Fences that do not have a strict shape require only pruning, eliminating the overgrowth of inaccurate, protruding shoots.
Typically, manual or electric scissors are used to cut hedges. For broad-leaved evergreens like common laurel, secateurs are used, as scissors damage leaves, disrupting the appearance of the hedge.
Feeding hedges is often forgotten. And since the plants in the hedge are spaced 30–90 cm apart, their roots often interfere with each other. Therefore, to maintain the normal growth of hedges, it is recommended to mulch the soil annually with well-rotted compost. Remember that by trimming a plant, you are depriving it of nutrient-producing leaves, and such plants need especially good care.
Plant architecture - the formation of shrubs and trees, especially evergreens, in the form of various animals or objects - an art subject only to a specialist. We do not consider it here. But pruning principles are the same as for evergreen shrubs.
© Daniel Fuchs
The value of the correct initial pruning cannot be overestimated, since the appearance of a hedge depends on its formation over the first two to three years.
Gardeners usually try not to prune young plants at all for the first two years, but this is not true. It is necessary to carry out a certain pruning of planted hedges to prevent them from growing too quickly in height.
The abundant formation of basal growths should also be stimulated, otherwise the base of the hedge will be exposed and the upper part will be thickened. The degree of initial pruning depends on the type of plant.
Deciduous hedge grown without strong initial pruning. Pay attention to the lack of basal growths.
Deciduous hedge, heavily trimmed during planting. As a result, dense, evenly spaced growths were formed.
The main task of such a hedge is to create a barrier, a protective strip or a windbreak. Therefore, the fence must have the required height, width and density.
There is no need for the width of even powerful hedges to exceed 30-60 cm with a good initial formation. Remember that a wider hedge is labor intensive and takes up more space in the garden.
Strict hedges should always have a wide base. If a hedge, especially from evergreen shrubs, has a wider top than its base, its branches may not withstand strong winds or snowfalls.
Begin cutting the hedge from the base, determining the required width for yourself, and move up. The scissor blades should be tilted to the bush so that the fence to the top goes on a cone.
In hedges with a height of more than 1.5 m, the upper part is often wider than the base, since it is much more convenient to work with scissors at the level of an outstretched arm and lower than above the head. In the latter case, use a special stand.
Plants formed by the type of hedges can be divided into three groups depending on pruning carried out in the first two years.
© Holger Casselmann
Hedgerows without strict form
And these hedges can have a very attractive look. In addition, they require less pruning and maintenance than strict hedges. Many flowering shrubs like barberry, action. wild rose and cinquefoil, growing in free form, can be excellent hedges. They are trimmed, as in the usual cultivation of these plants.
Shrubs forming flowers on old growths should be pruned and formed immediately after flowering, and those that bloom on annual growths should be cut in early spring.
Shrubs that produce fruit and bloom on old branches should be pruned and formed later when the fruit falls.
© Giancarlo Dessì
Pruning the first group of plants.
The first group of plants used in hedges includes relatively straight-growing shrubs, such as, for example, hawthorn, privet, snowberry, blackthorn, mirabelle and comb, which require strong pruning after planting.
When planting in spring, cut all plants to 15 cm from the soil level. This stimulates the formation of powerful basal shoots and eliminates exposure of the base.
Repeated strong pruning is required to maintain intensive growth and create a powerful skeleton. This second strong pruning ensures the continued formation of a dense hedge. If the density of the plants remains insufficient, the operation can be repeated the next year.
Third and subsequent years
At this time, only cosmetic pruning is needed during the growing season. The interval between haircuts depends on the type of plant and, to some extent, on weather conditions. Most plants of this group need regular mowing from April – May to September with an interval of 4–6 weeks to maintain them in a neat condition.
Evergreen shrubs, such as brilliant honeysuckle, boxwood and escalonia, also belong to this group. Their processing differs only in terms and degree of trimming in the first two years. These plants are best planted in March and April. Shorten the main and side branches by one third. The operation is repeated in March – April of the following year, when last year’s growth was shortened by one third. In the third and subsequent years, they are cut off, like other hedges of the first group.
1 spring. After planting, trim all plants to 15 cm from soil level.
June 2 — July. Trim side branches lightly to stimulate further growth.
3 Spring. Trim last year’s main growths by half, and the remaining side branches at a distance of a few centimeters from the skeletal branches.
4 Summer. Trim the side branches to cone the fence.
Third and subsequent years
5 Early spring. Trim the plants from above. Continue this operation until the desired hedge height is reached.
6 Summer. Form plants every 4-6 weeks to maintain your desired shape.
Pruning the second group of plants.
The second group of plants used in hedges includes squat shrubs with a bushy base. These are beech, hornbeam, hazel and many deciduous flowering shrubs, such as forsythia and red currant.
First and second years
The initial pruning of plants in this group is less intense than the first. When planting, shorten the upper and long side shoots by a third. Repeat this procedure for the next year to exclude the development of random growth and to ensure that the base of the hedge is filled with branches.
Third and subsequent years
During the growing season, keep the conical shape of the plant with a haircut. June and the end of August - the beginning of September - the best time for double cropping, the end of August - for a single. Once the plants have reached the required height, begin to pinch their tops.
Flowering shrubs of the Forsythia type should be pruned immediately after flowering and again (slightly) in August.
1 spring. After planting, shorten the main and strong side branches by one third.
2 Spring. Shorten the main and side branches by one third.
Third and subsequent years
June 3 — July. Trim the side branches to form a cone-shaped plant.
Pruning the third group of plants.
The third group of plants used for hedges includes coniferous and many other evergreen shrubs. When planting them, slightly trim sloppy, randomly sticking out side branches to stimulate the formation of new side shoots.
Do not touch the main stems until they reach the required height. Trimming for the second and subsequent years consists only in giving the desired shape to the lateral growths.
Formed hedges need pruning only once or twice a year; usually one pruning in August is enough. But very strong plants by the middle of summer become sloppy. To maintain their shape, do a double haircut - in June and at the end of August.
The flowers and fruits of some hedges with a strict form are also attractive in appearance, especially in cotoneaster and pyracantha, the growth of which resumes after flowering. Trim young growths as they develop in late July – August and do not touch wilted flowers so that the fruits have time to set in before fall.
1 spring. When planting, trim randomly sticking out side branches. Establish support.
June 2 — July. Cut the side branches, giving the plant the desired shape. Tie plants as they grow.
Second and subsequent years
June 3 — July. Trim the side branches to the desired shape. Tie up the plants. Pinch the main stems at the desired height.
Some neglected hedges become too wide and tall. It is best to uproot such hedges and plant young plants. Nevertheless, some plants respond well to fairly strong pruning, usually used to rejuvenate shrubs. But instead of pruning, the plants entirely cut only one side of the hedge to the main stems. After a year or two, repeat this operation for the second side. In evergreens, this pruning should be carried out in April-early May, in deciduous plants, in late winter, when they are still at rest. So that plants can recover after such a strong pruning, provide them with abundant top dressing and watering.
This method is suitable for yew, holly, cotoneaster, pyracantha, Pontic rhododendron and many other deciduous plants.
Links to materials:
- C. Brinell - Pruning - translation from English by A.P. Raevsky edited by Ph.D. Agricultural Sciences F.A. Volkova MOSCOW "WORLD" 1987