The hedges

Natural shapes and borders

Why a hedge?

Compared to rigid ones such as walls, gates, gratings and fences, the “living” enclosures are formed of vegetable
elements. Yet another natural ornament is introduced into the garden. A hedge substantially increases the green available and is fundamental in defining the personality of your green area.

How to create a “personal” one?

By using hedges in a creative manner, and avoiding for example rigid alignments that become cold and cumbersome barriers, they can become the most marvellous elements of living architecture. Even with formal rigidly pruned hedges, you can use a bit of imagination. In fact, by matching several types of plants, or different varieties of the same species ( for example, holly with green or multi-colored leaves) you will have an alternation of foliage sufficient to create something unusual.

How to choose the plants for the hedges?

Obviously the choice has to be made from plants which first of all are suited to the climate of the zone and secondly to the position and exposure that the garden will have. The choice should if possible also be oriented towards plants that offer more than one attraction, for example, those that join beautiful flowering and autumn berries, or attractive evergreen foliage. To avoid the monotony of a hedge made up of a succession of the same plant, it is possible to select light and flexible shrubs with slightly curved branches.

Which plants are suitable for hedges?

Evergreens are ideal plants, since they don’t change shape and stay green during the winter. In the North, the yew and the holly are particularly adapted, as they create especially thick hedges and need pruning but once a year. Plants which undergo substantial growth, such as the privet and the laurel-cherry, are also frequently used, but they must be pruned several times a year, to keep them tidy and favor the thickening of the hedge. Conifers are also suitable for hedges: either of a dark green color, such as the black cypress or the red fir (in the mountains) or lighter like the Monterey cypress (it grows about 70-90 cm each year) or the so-called Green Hedger (a green hedge whose scientific name is Chamaecyparis lawsoniana), which grows straight and forms a compact, robust hedge.
Lavender creates a fragrant hedge, evergreen, up to a maximum height of 90 cm; it resists salt winds very well and grows normally in warm climates.

Are trees suitable?

Shrubs and trees with caducous leaves are widely used, especially beeches and hornbeams, which keep their brown and yellow leaves for the entire cold season until the start of the spring. Trees may give life to giant hedges and act as a windbreak, with better effects than a wall or fence because they let the wind filter through while at the same time slowing it down. On the coasts it is also possible to use exotic species, such as the salt acacia, which resists well against the effect of salt. In large parks far from the sea, elms, limetrees and field maples are suitable.

When to plant a hedge?

Hedges formed of deciduous plants can be planted at any time during the off-season; those formed of evergreen plants, on the other hand, need to be planted in October or April, when the ground is warm.

How?

The trench needs to be 60 cm wide. Put seasoned manure and very fertile potting soil on the bottom and cover. About ten days before planting, cover the surface with superphosphate. Make holes sufficiently large to hold the entire root system or the block of earth, plant the shrubs so that the level mark from the nursery corresponds with that of its current location. To protect the new hedge from the wind, fasten supports to the end of poles, stretch a wire between the supports and tie all the plants.

How to take care of a hedge?

In the spring, administer fertilizer to the adult hedges, covering the entire root area with a good specific fertilizer. Repeat fertilizing at the start of the summer, watering first if the ground is dry and covering it with a good layer of humus to keep it constantly humid in the driest periods.

When to prune?

For hedges that don’t need to take on any particular shape it is enough, after planting, to shorten by a third the young plants. After that prune once after flowering. Hedges that must take on a particular shape must be pruned to half their height just after planting, and then two or three times a year. The periods for pruning and the relative methods vary according to the type of shrub. Pruning can lead to unusual vegetation shapes. For example you can create pilasters, spheres or windows in the hedge, which also allow for the play of light and shadows. Motorized hedgetrimmers are very useful, especially when the vegetation of the hedge is tender.

Other brief suggestions

  • The yew tolerates severe pruning better than do most evergreens. You can renew the plant or reduce its dimensions by cutting the branches all the way down to the base of the old trunk.
  • Do not allow the more vigorous branches to reach their full dimension before pruning them. To form a thick
    hedge, prune them when they are growing. Even if this delays the hedge from reaching the desired height, the end result will be more satisfying.

When is a hedgetrimmer needed?

The hedgetrimmer, with either an electric motor or petrol engine, is essential for the maintenance and care of all sizes of hedges. The electric ones are easy to handle, lightweight and quiet, and they are especially suitable for hedges with thin branches and located near electrical outlets. The petrol ones, equipped with 2-stroke engines and longer blades, are suited for heavier jobs or more consistent hedges (heavy foliage or thicker branches).

How to choose it?

It is important for the blade to be of high quality so as to have a clean cut, both for aesthetics as well as to protect the health of the plant. Technical solutions such as the “primer” and “lift starter” allow for easy starting every time, even after long shutdowns. Models with automatic blade stop (in less than a second) and characterized by ease of maintenance are preferable. The handgrip which swivels 180° is very useful for comfortable working even with the machine inclined against vertical walls.

Multifunction brushcutters, convenient and economical

We’ve seen them around, these multifunction brushcutters. You buy just one machine, equipped with a head or disk, and exchangeable with a series of accessories which are available as needed. In this way you can have, at reduced costs, a product with more functions.

How to convert a brushcutter to a swivel hedgetrimmer?

The idea which is the basis of multifunction brushcutters is the ease of changing from one function to the other by simply changing the cutting tool, without using other tools. By simply replacing the head or the disk with a swivel hedgetrimmer, in an instant you get a practical and high performance product to work on walls of large hedges.

What is a swivel hedgetrimmer?

This is a blade system, applicable to a brushcutter, which thanks to the length of the transmission tube makes it possible, from the ground, to work at the height of the hedges; what’s more, thanks to a 270° rotation angle, it is easy to work at the top of the hedges or on vertical or inclined walls. In the best models, the blade group can be fixed in numerous intermediate positions to have maximum flexibility of use.

Is the hedgetrimmer an easy tool?

The ease of starting, use and maintenance, their easy handling and light weight make them tools which are suitable both for consumer and gardeners.

Are they safe tools?

The basic safety of the products is very high. It must absolutely in any case be reinforced by the use of professional work gloves that reach past the wrist and protective goggles or, better yet, a visor. Sturdy shoes, preferably a professional cut-resistant model, ensure a good grip on the terrain, better balance, less fatigue and more precise work. The rest of the clothing should also be adequate and in any case cover most of the body. There are on the market jackets, leggings, and dungarees which are comfortable yet strong enough to resist cuts. It is important to be relatively isolated from the noise, so as to increase concentration and reduce stress. It is also useful to wear ear protectors or earplugs which are found in specialized sales outlets and often distributed by the manufacturers of hedgetrimmers themselves.
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