Frequently Asked Hedge & Shrub Trimming Questions

using hand trimmers to cut a hedge into the perfect shapeWe’ve run across a lot of questions during out time providing hedge trimming services in Toronto, here we’ve compiled some of the most common questions we’re been asked. Our landscapers have a ton of experience so if you have a question that’s not here? Give us a call!

Can you give me advice on how to trim brand-new hedges?

New hedges require what we call “formative pruning,” trimming that will determine the shape of your new hedge for the rest of its life. Formative pruning needs to be done in the winter or spring, before the hedge begins to really grow, and will require regular upkeep over the first couple of years. Depending on whether you have formal hedges, the dense hedges seen on estates and in Edward Scissorhands, or more casual and informal hedges will determine how often and when formative pruning is performed. Formal hedges need extra attention because of their density, so you’ll need to strike a balance between cultivating a dense hedge and letting sunlight hit as much of your new hedge as possible.

Do you have any advice on trimming cedar hedges?

Trimming cedar hedging can take a large amount of work, most of these hedges are incredibly tall, and if left to become overgrown are certainly a headache to manage. We highly suggest you care for your cedar hedging regularly before they turn into a cluster of cedar trees. We highly recommend you contact a professional to handle this task as the hieghts are a leading cause of injury due to falling off ladders or inproper usage of specialized hedge trimming equipment.

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Can you give me advice on how to trim shrubs?

Shrubs are a little different from hedges, not only in how they absorb nutrients, but also how they are expected to look. Here’s a few tips on pruning shrubs:

1. Cut the Chaff: Any old, weak, or wayward branches should be cut at the point they merge from the larger branch. This will help thin out the middle of the shrub for more sunlight, but also prevent these branches from simply growing back the same way again later.

2. Angle Your Cuts: A 45-degree cut will help water run away from the branch when it rains so unwanted fungus and disease doesn’t have a place to fester where you cut the branch.

3. Conifers and Evergreens: These should get cut back in the fall or early winter (save the clippings for holiday decorations!) and again just as the first signs of growth appear in the spring. Combined, these two pruning sessions will help control growth and keep your conifers and evergreens looking their best.

4. Deciduous: You can be quite aggressive with deciduous shrubs, cutting up to a third of the branches down to the ground each year.

What’s the best time of the year to trim your hedge?

How often and when you trim your hedge depends on what you want from your hedge, but generally the best time of year is year-round. Each season will require a certain type of pruning to encourage growth and keep things looking great. For your average hedge, a winter and spring pruning for a basic shape is important. Especially with younger hedges, you’ll want to prune during the spring and winter for the first couple of years.

As for older hedges, how often and when you’ll be pruning depends mostly on what kind of hedge you have. Some will require more attention than others and at different times of the year, and all this depends on the weather we’ve been having that season. Some species in particular will need cut two or three times while others will only need the shears once per year. Many species will need pruning in August and almost all could do with a “hard” pruning in the winter, but some will need cut earlier in the season.

And remember that pruning flowering hedges at the wrong time may prevent your hedge from flowering the next year, so make sure any pruning is done after they start to flower, and in some cases after they’ve finished flowering completely.

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What are a few basic hedge trimming tips?

Most people stress about trimming their hedges, thinking that one wrong cut and the entire plant, and maybe even the entire garden, is completely ruined. This isn’t the case. Pruning is a little complicated, and getting the exact right shape may require hours of maintenance and attention, but hedges are hardy and beautiful plants, you can’t kill one by cutting off a few branches. But here are a couple of tips for anyone who wants to cut their hedges properly:

1. Use sharp, clean shears: Dull shears will bend and break branches rather than leaving a smooth cut. Dirty shears are just as bad as sap will act like glue and mess up your cuts.

2. For a straight line, use some string: Setting up a string-line where you want to cut your hedge is the best way to keep a consistent look, especially if you’re relying on hand tools rather than power tools.

3. Power vs. hand tools: While power tools are quicker, they can also make a hedge look terrible even faster. Hand tools take longer, but the look is almost always better. Besides, many people find hedge trimming to be therapeutic, just like other types of gardening. For larger hedges, a combination of electric tools for the broader trimming and hand tools for the finer details is a good strategy.

4. Safety: With both power and hand tools, safety is your biggest concern. Never overextend yourself or put yourself in awkward positions for trimming. Remember, moving the ladder a couple of feet will only take a few seconds, but falling off a ladder will hurt for much longer. Proper safety gear, like safety goggles, work gloves, ear protection, and work boots will keep you safer.

5. Wildlife: Your hedge may be home to all sorts of different animals, from wasps and bees to nesting birds. Some provincial regulations will prevent you from interfering with certain animals, so make sure you call an exterminator or wildlife control to help move them safely away.

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How do you determine hedge trimming prices?

Hedge trimming prices are dependent on a number of different factors, including time, equipment required, style, and the plants themselves, not to mention if there is any other landscaping or infrastructure that could potentially interfere with the work. With all of these playing into a price, there can be a lot involved in an accurate quote but we are able to provide a generalized ballpark quote over the phone in most cases. For an exact estimate on very large jobs, we will be happy to assess your pruning needs for you and provide an estimate after seeing exactly what you want and what sorts of plants you have.

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