Hedging Your Bets: Routine Care of Shrubs & Hedges

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You can look at pruning shrubs and trimming hedges as a chore, or you can look at it as a creative outlet. Many new gardeners don’t feel they are up to the task and put it off. But it’s much better if you start pruning your shrubs right away when they are young and continue to do minor annual pruning each year rather than let them get overgrown and end up needing major renewal pruning. Regular pruning also helps promote healthier shrubs that produce more blooms.

 

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Continue to Step 1

Overview

You can look at pruning shrubs and trimming hedges as a chore, or you can look at it as a creative outlet. Many new gardeners don’t feel they are up to the task and put it off. But it’s much better if you start pruning your shrubs right away when they are young and continue to do minor annual pruning each year rather than let them get overgrown and end up needing major renewal pruning. Regular pruning also helps promote healthier shrubs that produce more blooms.

What You'll Need

Tools:

Black & Decker 20V 22 in. Lithium Hedge Trimmer
Pruning shears
20V MAX* Lithium Alligator Lopper

Materials:

String

 

Step 1

Pruning Tools

The three tools that will get you through most pruning jobs are hand-held pruners, loppers, and a small curved saw. Pruning shears are available in two basic designs: bypass and anvil. Bypass shears tend to damage stems less than anvil types and fit into tighter spots. Anvil shears are more powerful. Loppers can cut branches up to 2 inches thick. A small pruning saw can be used for branches larger than that. Pruning tools are easiest to use and make the healthiest cuts when they are sharp and clean.
For hedge trimming, you can use manual hedge shears or a power hedge trimmer. It is much easier to get an even cut with a power model because the blade is longer (20 to 24 inches for power trimmers versus 8 to 12 inches for hand shears).


Step 2

Pruning Shrubs

Start by removing any dead, diseased, or damaged branches, then stand back and take a look. Decide which branches you should remove to improve the overall shape or size of the shrub. In some cases you will be cutting branches back to a certain point, and in some cases you will be removing entire branches at the base of the shrub.


Step 3

Hedge Trimming

When shrubs are planted close enough together so that they form a linear row, they are collectively called a hedge. When the plants are sheared regularly so they have the appearance of almost all one shrub, it is a formal hedge. Formal hedges work best when the shrub used has a naturally dense growth habit and small leaves. Formal hedges usually require trimming several times a year to keep them looking neat.


Step 4

Trimming a Formal Hedge

Your 20V Lithium Hedge Trimmer is the perfect tool for maintaining your formal hedges. When trimming a formal hedge to a geometric shape, it helps to use guidelines, so you will need some stakes and string. Unless you have a great eye, it is difficult to trim perfectly straight lines.


Step 5

Creating a Spiral Topiary

Feeling creative? Here’s a way to really show off your trimming skills and create a unique, appealing shrub.


 
 

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