How to tidy an overgrown hedge

In any garden, a hedge whether tall or short, bushy or formal can be used to define property boundaries, screen unwanted views or noise, and provide an important framework for the layout and design of your other plants; however, without proper maintenance all of these structural values can be lost, especially if a hedge is left to become overgrown.
If when planting a new hedge you choose the correct species for the size and type of hedge that you require, the issue of an overgrown hedge can be avoided altogether. By researching the growth rate, the final height and the level of upkeep required, you will understand how much work you are commiting to in order to achieve the hedge you desire. For example, if you are looking for a fast growing species to create a formal hedge boundary, you could consider Privet hedging, whereas for a more natural aesthetic and a slower growth rate, Euonymus Emerald n Gold would be a good option.
If however you do find yourself faced with an overgrown hedge, don’t worry – it may take a bit of time but your hedge can be restored to its former garden glory.
 overgrown hedge
Tidying deciduous and evergreen hedges-
Certain varieties of hedging take well to hard pruning better than others. Deciduous hedging species that can be hard pruned using the following techniques include, Beech, Hawthorn and Hornbeam, and this should be carried out in winter when the plants are dormant. Evergreen hedging such as Box, Privet and Holly can also be renovated in mid-spring in the following way:
(You can cut both the height and width of your overgrown hedge back by up to 50% in one single cut, however we recommend staggering this process over at least two years, preferably more)
– In the first year cut back the width of one side of your hedge to at least 15cm less than your final desired width then trim the other side as normal, leaving the top of your hedge uncut
– To encourage growth at the base of your hedge, ensure the surrounding soil is free of weeds to prevent any competition for water and nutrients. Mulch and feed as usual in spring, watering weekly during warm weather to increase re-growth.
– In the second year, carry out the same process as year one but on the other side of the hedge, again leaving the top uncut and continue to feed and water in spring.
– The third year is the time to tackle the top. Cut back the height of your hedge to 15cm lower than your desired final hedge height. Follow with the same feeding and watering procedures in spring.
 trimming a deciduous hedge
Tidying up a conifer hedge-
Conifer hedges are slightly different in that they cannot tolerate hard renovation pruning. With the exception of Yew, which can be cut back similar to a deciduous hedge, conifers such as Cupressus, Leylandii and Golden Leyland Cypress need to be approached with a different method:
– In early to mid-spring, cut the height of your hedge back by up to a third. Prune some of the side branches right back to the leader and leave others uncut. Doing this will encourage growth by letting light and air into the plant, allowing the remaining stems to branch out.
– After pruning, mulch and feed your hedge and continue to water well.
– If you find the top of your hedge remains quite bare for a few seasons, this is nothing to worry about – by leaving the shoots that grow around the damaged areas unpruned, you can tie or wire them over the bare spots to fill in any untidy gaps.
 pruning a conifer hedge
Always remember, when pruning in winter, leave your berried hedging for as long as you can to provide hungry birds with food, and in spring always thoroughly check your hedge for nesting birds before carrying out any pruning or maintenance.
If you have any questions about this topic, or anything else relating to your garden, please tweet me @best4hedging and I’ll be happy to help.

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