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Home » Hedge Cutting » Reducing Tall or Wide Hedges

Reducing Tall or Wide Hedges

Occasionally, it becomes necessary to give a hedge a severe cut back or height reduction.

How you go about it depends on a couple of things:

• The thickness of individual stems.
• The species of the hedge.

If the stems are any thicker than 3/4 of a inch, then even a powered hedge cutter will struggle. It will be a case of using loppers and a pruning saw to cut the growth back to the desired level. Don’t try and use a chainsaw to reduce a thick stemmed hedge unless you are experienced - it can end in tears!

If the stems are less than 3/4 of a inch thick, it may be possible to use a petrol powered hedge cutter. Electric hedge cutters are only really suitable for general trimming and maintenance. Bring the hedge to at least 12 inches below the required level to allow for the new growth.

Hedge species

If your hedge is a conifer species, such as Lleylandii, then take care not to cut the side foliage back as far as the brown interior of the hedge. It will probably not recover and will remain looking scruffy and defoliated. Also, when reducing the height of conifer hedges, new growth will be produced from the younger material at the outer edges of the hedge as opposed to re-sprouting from the main stems in the centre of the hedge. This is important to remember if you will be viewing the hedge from above as the top of the hedge will take several years to green over completely.

If your conifer hedge is lacking in foilage in the lower regions (as is the case with many older hedges in shady positions) it may be better to reduce the hedge gradually over the course of a couple of years.

Most other species such as beech, hornbeam, laurel, holly, privet, field maple and hawthorn will recover from a hard cut with no problems. If possible, carry out the work at the end of the winter before the sap begins to rise.

High hedge