How to: Clip hedges and topiary


A neatly clipped hedge or topiary shape can make all the difference to a garden. A tidy hedge clearly defines a boundary, or can divide up a garden into smaller pockets, while topiary can be used in containers or borders to bring year-round structure and interest to a space. It doesn’t take much to whip plants into shape, with clipping transforming often scruffy bushes in no time at all. Clipping should be done twice a year – once in mid-late spring and again in the autumn. It's a good idea to add fertiliser in the autumn months for healthy hedges. 

Hedges 

What you'll need:

  • Large sheet or piece of plastic
  • Electric hedge trimmer
  • Broom
  • Plastic rake

How to clip hedges:

Step 1

Lay your sheet or piece of plastic at the base of your hedge. This should catch the lion’s share of the clippings making the clean-up process easy.

Step 2
Plug the hedge trimmer into a socket fitted with a circuit breaker, and put the lead over your shoulder so it’s constantly behind you.

Step 3
Work along the length of the hedge with the trimmer, moving further away from the power source as you go. Trim back the branches until the hedge begins to look neat and uniform.

Step 4
When you’ve finished cutting use a broom to brush down the hedge and dislodge any loose clippings. You’ll find quite a few on the top of the hedge so be sure to brush those to the ground.

Step 5
Use the rake to gather all the clippings into the centre of the sheet. Pull the edges together to move the clippings to your compost heap or the back of your car to take to the tip.

Topiary

What you'll need:

  • Large sheet or piece of plastic
  • Topiary shears
  • Dustpan and brush
  • Liquid seaweed feed

How to clip topiary:

Step 1
Lay your sheet or piece of plastic at the base of your topiary. This will catch the clippings, meaning there will be no need for endless sweeping when you’re finished.

Step 2
Carefully clip bushes back to their original, neat shapes – this usually means cutting away any growth that’s sprouted in the spring. Stand back regularly to take a look and check your progress.

Step 3
When you’ve finished cutting, use a hand brush to remove any loose clippings. Brush them onto the sheet if possible.

Step 4
Shake the clippings into the centre of the sheet, making them easy to move and dispose of.

Step 5
Give topiary growing in pots a liquid feed after you’ve clipped it (liquid seaweed feed is ideal). This will keep plants strong and healthy and help them recover from being clipped.

How to: clip hedges and topiary

When clipping, create a slight ridge along the top of your hedge that slopes down towards the sides. This will allow light to get to the top of the hedge and keep it green and healthy.

Don’t worry if you don’t have topiary shears – a sharp pair of sturdy scissors will do the job just as well.

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