Making Decisions About Hedge Height

We're running out of time to cut hedges and the weather isn't on our side. It has been raining on and off for several days; this is the fun and frustration of gardening when you set aside time to do seasonal jobs and the season decides to slip away. It is never a good idea to cut hedges in the rain, especially with electric hedge cutters. You think we're joking but we have seen people doing this and their defense is that the cutters are plugged into a circuit breaker. As much as we would trust a circuit breaker it probably won't save you if the rain becomes a thunderstorm and you become a lightning rod. That aside and the mind numbing belief that water and electric mix with some people waiting to be candidates in the Darwin Awards, there is a simple reason why you shouldn't use sharp tools up a ladder in the rain. Any hedge trimmings that fall to the base of the hedge when it is raining become quickly slippy and that means a real risk to your health and safety. We're not going to go all health and safety mad on you, this isn't time for hi-vis Victor, it's just a moment of common sense. If you're on ladders and you climb down still clutching your hedge shears and you slip...well, you can be a candidate for Stupid Deaths in Horrible Histories

Making decisions about hedge height

Andrew doesn't like using ladders, bad with heights, bad with back, we have decided that maybe it would be a good idea to reduce them. We planted these hedges in the second year of the garden, that means from 8 inch (20cm) whips (a whip is a plant that is often in its first season, with a single stem) we have grown hedges that have reached up to seven feet. Just showing that in around five years you can have a mature hedge. This year we will reduce them down to just under six feet and further still next year. This means we won't have to stand on ladders to cut the top of the hedge. Meaning either one of us can do it when the season comes around to do so.

Drastic pruning to bring in light

One thing we have decided to do immediately though is to reduce the height of the hedges inside the boundaries of the garden. We have a 250 foot long hedge that stretches from the cottage garden to the orchard, a mix of hornbeam, blackthorn, kentish cob and hazel but going across the garden we have several mixed hedges to break the garden up into plots. Though this baffles the wind (this simply means if it is windy it stops the plants in these plots from being blown over) they crossing hedges are making the plots dark and damp. 

Cutting the hedges on Pig Row

So, we have taken then down from seven feet (approximately 2.1 metres); for the record, legally hedges are meant to be around six feet (approximately 1.8 metres), ours are at seven feet at the moment due the amazing amount of growth they have put on during a wet summer. We have cut them down three and half feet (roughly 1 metre) and it has opened up the space and flooded the greenhouse with light.

You can be brave with pruning hedges, most hedges grow back

Opening up spaces in your garden

This is somewhat of an experiment to see whether this drastic cut will encourage new top growth, only time will tell but we think a mix of hedges at 4-5 feet (1.2 metres - 1.5 metres) around the boundary and 3-4 feet (0.9 metres - 1.2 metres) across the garden will still protect the growing plants and be easier to cut.

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