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bigbavarian 05-03-2010 11:01 AM

Hedges Out Of Control - When and How to Prune
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Hello Everyone,

We just purchased the house and the hedges are over grown. It looks like the middle of the hedges are all stems and the leaves are only on the edges. I am afraid if I try to trim them down a little they will look leaveless.

Take a look at the image I attached.

Do I just need to do it and get it over with so new growth will come it? Wil new growth come it? What shoudl I do with them? I don't want to rrip them out because they keep the riff raff our of the yard.



downunder 05-03-2010 06:37 PM

The first thing that jumps out at me is a problem that a lot of people do. Done properly, the tops should be slightly narrower than the bottom so that the lower branches will get adequate light.

You will need to do the pruning in several gradual steps in either of two ways. Take just a couple of inches- almost but not quite into the brown interior. EASY, too much and you will have big brown spots. I know, it seems like you are not accomplishing much. Or, an alternative would be to reach into the shrub and selectively prune the branches individually to thin the top which will also let in more light into the interior of the shrub. Look in a pruning book for examples of how to cut at a side branch. Also lightly fertilize and water to encourage new growth.

You should see new growth in a few weeks. After the shrub "recovers," you can do it again in late summer but not into fall. You don't want freezing weather to hit any new growth put out after the second pruning.

Snav 05-03-2010 06:45 PM

Yeah - slowly cutting back - maybe a few inches once a month - is a good way to go about it.

We have some hawthorn bushes in our yard that were too tall - just before winter we hacked them down brutally 5" below the height that we wanted. Now that Spring is here they have grown in healthy and now we can maintain them at the desired height.

Jim F 05-05-2010 09:34 PM

Don't you hate it when the previous owner neglects things that result in a lot of work. I got militant and hacked mine down pretty good when I first moved in. The top was completely brown. They came back, it took a while. I don't recommend it. The Privit in the back yard was worse yet about 9 ft tall and falling over. To add insult to injury the electric company called a week after we moved in and told me I had to prune around the meter ASAP. I asked if the P.O. was told to prune ASAP and they didn't have an answer.

Snav 05-06-2010 07:22 AM

Haha - likely not. But since you're such a good diligent pruner they felt they'd get some reaction from you.

bigbavarian 05-06-2010 07:43 AM

Thanks everyone. I did end up trimming a few inches off and will slowely trim them down.


Allison1888 05-06-2010 10:48 PM

Also, don't do too much fertilizer in that area if you can help it. Many lawn fertilizers contain lots of nitrogen, which will help the trees grow bigger, which you don't want.

Snav 05-07-2010 08:53 AM

Yeah - I second that! Avoid fertilizers that boost overall growth :)

You're heading in the right direction - your front lawn will look amazing when you're finished, just be patient, it takes a while to tame and contain nature.

AllanJ 05-09-2010 08:39 AM

Visualize (or measure) what you want the finished dimensions of the hedges to be.

Cut every third midsize branch (not just tips) to be three inches INSIDE those dimensions. Yes that branch will now be bare (leafless) In addition, thin out some of the foliage so the sun can hit the cut branches.

Next year cut half of the remaining uncut branches to be 3 inches inside those dimensions.

The year after cut the branches that were not done the previous two years to be 3 inches inside those dimensions. Use a hedge trimmer as needed or desired to reshape the entire hedge.

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