Each year when spring rolls around and the weather gets warmer, everyone is ready to to get outdoors and enjoy the beautiful sunshine and ideal temperatures. It is the also the season when outdoor plants, hedges, and shrubs begin to bloom and grow. Knowing how and when to trim those hedges is very important to the life (and looks) of those hedges and shrubs. So if you’re looking for some pruning tips & need an excuse to get out of the house, this is the post for you! Trimming Hedges & Shrubs: Yard Work 101.
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Trimming Hedges & Shrubs: Yard Work 101
First Things First:
Trimming and pruning (evergreen) shrubs and hedges in early spring helps to optimize growth, promote fullness, and clean up damaged limbs.
But I know that we all have other questions about the do’s and don’ts of pruning, so here are answers to some commonly asked questions.
(Check out these posts below if you have time – they have a ton of great information)!
Most Common Questions & Answers from the Experts:
Trimming Hedges & Shrubs: Yard Work 101
- hedge trimmer – cordless battery-operated or electric
- pruner (optional) or set
- trash can
- contractor trash bags
- goggles (for safety)
- dolly or wheelbarrow (optional)
***I recommend wearing gloves, a long sleeve shirt, loose pants, tennis shoes, and goggles (or at least sunglasses).
***The branches will scrape against you, and some of the clippings could hit you in your eyes. Also, you might see some asps (or other stinging creatures), and you want your body and feet protected 🙂
Trimming Hedges & Shrubs
I started off trimming the shrubs on our driveway and the patio/garage side, all by hand. And you can do it this way too – but my hands, shoulders, and back were very sore the following days after pruning.
So when my husband and I started trimming the hedges lined up against the backyard fence wall, we changed it up to make it easier (on me).
He used a battery-operated cordless trimmer (which he just had to go buy – enter huge eye roll here 😉 ) to get the overgrown areas first.
Then I came along behind him with the hand shears to detail everything.
Trimming Hedges & Shrubs
Here are the 4 Steps I used:
STEP 1: Trim TOP of Shrubs
I started in the TOP middle and trimmed the front of the shrub to back of the shrub (towards fence). Then I moved a step to the left and repeated the front to back motion.
Why do I start in the middle? The shrubs are thicker in the middle (and usually taller), so I can gauge my height better.
Plus, if I start on the side and cut too short accidentally, it’s very hard to “correct” the entire shrub.
TIP #1: If you want to get the height to all of your shrubs to match, tie a string up along the width of them. It will act as a level.
I just went by sight – that’s how I roll!
TIP #2: You will want to stand back at a far distance – often – to check your height and work – trust me!! This will save you from a lot of extra trimming & time.
STEP 2: Trim FRONT of Shrub
At this stage, only half of the top portion had been trimmed. Now I pruned the FRONT area (part facing me) that is directly under the top portion that I pruned.
I chose a middle point, and then pruned from right to left (going from middle to end).
TIP #3: You will want to stand back to the far side – often – to check your line.
STEP 3: Trim SIDE of Shrub
Next, I trimmed the LEFT SIDE of the shrub (sorry the right side picture was better – lol).
Again I started in the middle front, trimming towards the fence.
Then I just followed my line from top to bottom.
STEP 4: Repeat for the RIGHT SIDE
Basically it’s like you are cutting only one half of the entire shrub – initially. And then you repeat the process for the other side.
Check out the picture below. You can really tell the difference along that back fence line – right?
Go to the end of the post to see what a difference the mulch makes!!
CLEANING UP CLIPPINGS:
No project is complete without some clean up – ugh!! But here are some helpful steps and tips to make it easier!
STEP 1: Gently Rake Over the Top of the Shrubs
I just gently rake the entire shrub just to see if there are some branches that stick out or have gotten weighted down by all of the other clippings.
This helps to loosen up or pull out branches that get stuck together. This will mak it easier to trim branches that you didn’t get the first time.
*There are always a few that you will have to fix.*
STEP 2: Rake Up Leaves Into a Contractor Trash Bag
Now you can rake all of the clippings and put them into your heavy duty trash bag. The clippings will poke through a regular trash bag, so the stronger it is…. the better it will be for you.
Also, make sure to rake underneath the shrubs where a ton of clippings will fall and accumulate.
TIP #4: Put your trash bag in a trash can while you’re cleaning up. It is SO much easier!!
TIP #5: Use a dust pan to gather clippings and leaves to put into your trash bag.
TIP #6: Put your trash can on top of a wooden furniture dolly or in a wheel barrow to carry the trash away. These bags will get very heavy, and using something with wheels will save your back!
AND YOU ARE DONE –
WELL EXCEPT IF YOU WANT TO ADD DIRT & MULCH – HAHA!!
…..and I did…..
BEFORE & AFTER PICTURES
Thank goodness for mulch!! It’s like the secret ingredient to making everything look so green and beautiful.
Side view of the rounded hedge. I think it turned out pretty well. 🙂
Now, I’m going to have to put some plants in the flower beds to add a little color. Well it’s not like I have anything else to do right now.
And here is the picture (from above), now with the mulch. It just adds the finishing touch.
This is a good picture of the pruned wax myrtle tree (between the shrubs) also. Everything just looks so much cleaner when trimmed and shaped up.
Full views – didn’t have before pictures of these – sorry! Just thought I’d add them anyway.
AND YES – I know the shrubs are tallest to shortest on this side. The guys who cut it before had this little system already in place.
I still like it!
Hope you found some helpful tips and inspiration to get those back yards ready to open for business – soon I hope!!
HAPPY SPRING EVERYONE!!
LOVE & HUGS 🙂
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Thanks! Very useful.