Evergreens, the last cuts and shaping hedges

At last we are into eagerly awaited holiday time, but it does not mean we can take a long time off from garden works.

This is a busy time for cutting and shaping evergreens. These actions must be done several times during growing season. However, you must remember that certain species like buxus need more time before winter comes to lignify young sprouts (that emerge after cutting), so mid-July is the last moment for shaping slowly growing species.

A hedge or a solitaire tree that has been cut once, requires constant care and maintenance not to lose its ornamental and functional properties. So before you grab your shears to clear the garden, make sure to think of the following:

  • which plant to shape,
  • which plant to leave growing naturally,
  • how much time can you spare for maintenance,
  • what is the final effect to achieve after few years of cutting

Benefits of having evergreens in a garden seem to be very obvious. Most people see the difference, especially in winter when leaves disappear in great numbers. Absorption of dust, noise, cover from wind, natural fencing or screen, and a series of ornamental features: setting space in a garden, central points or decorative topiaries (plant sculptures).

Truly, there are many uses for evergreens. Since the plants are very valuable and they can make you waiting for a long time (usually they grow very slowly), proceed with cutting them very carefully. Good choice of tools is of great importance.

You can do different cuts with hand shears and with battery powered cutters.

There are different uses for shears with rounded cutting blades, similar to scissors (for living sprouts), and for straight upper blade (lignified and dried sprouts), just like there are different uses for small one-handed pruning shears (anvil/by-pass).

Tool blades must be absolutely dry, clean and smooth, otherwise cutting will inflict lacerated wound in the plant, which can be a starting point for disease development. Put shears to the plant always starting with the cutting blade.

The most frequently shaped plant is buxus, but you can also experiment with other species, such as cherry laurel, taxus or holly. Looks and condition of green sculptures greatly depend on cutting time. You should form new outline (shaping) at the end of March already. Next, depending on growth force of a given species, perform cutting a few times starting from May to end of July.

Remember, never cut plants in rain or when plants are still wet, do not do that in strong sunlight and in great heat. In unfavourable conditions, it is much harder for the plants to heal wounds inflicted when cutting. Regarding technical side of hedge cutting, trapezium shape is favourable, so the sunlight can reach all the height. The hedge can be more attractive with rounded edges.

Tradition of plant cut-outs reaches back a few centuries. But the green sculptures are best associated with renaissance and style of manors, which reflected later on in traditional English and French art of horticulture. However, creating a piece of art out of a plant requires time, persistence and a firm hand. It is hard to stand up to this challenge without proper tools.

What to look at when choosing shears?

First of all, know what you are going to shape. When you think of trimming hedges, equip yourself with electrical hedge trimmer, which will make work much easier and faster. Moreover, the blade bar is longer than in hand powered tool, making it easier to reach all spots.

When trimming small shapes in the garden, there is no need to go for powered shears. Hand shears will prove great, and the blade length is best to fit to your plant. Shaping and cutting require precision and are extended over time, therefore take care of handle ergonomics (it should be profiled to fit in hand and softly coated). When working for a long time, bumpers between blades will be important.

Have a great fun when cutting!

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