Our recommendation for the best hedge shears is the ARS Professional Hedge Shears. Trimming hedges and shrubs is essential to maintain the desired shape of your outdoor plants. It also benefits the bushes by encouraging new growth for a more pleasing appearance. Read on to learn about our recommendations and tips for pruning your woody plants.
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Hedge shears are the tool of choice when it comes to trimming hedges, shrubs, and even small trees. Pruning is a necessary part of routine maintenance for both the health of your plants as well as keeping them to their intended purpose or space. You’ll likely need to do this task at least at some point during the life of your plants. With the right tool, it is an easy job.
Benefits of Regular Pruning
Most shrubs and hedges will need some guidance in the form of pruning at least during the early stages of growth. You’ll need to do this to start them on the right growth pattern. It is important for both aesthetic and health reasons. If your plants are left unchecked, they will grow as they please and wherever they can—even if it’s outside of your intended plan.
From a health perspective, you can prune bushes and shrubs to remove dead or damaged branches. A wound is an open invitation for disease and pests. Regular trimming can create a balance between dense bushes and those which are weak and scraggly because of a lack of sunlight penetrating the inner reaches. Plants can’t make enough food with adequate light.
Pruning will ensure that your shrubs conform to the pleasing shape that you desire while preventing them from encroaching into unwanted places or invading the space of other plants. It will also encourage optimal flower and fruit growth. And sometimes trimming is a necessity because of hazards created by overhanging branches and damage caused by weather.
How and When to Trim Shrubs
Pruning isn’t simply a matter of grabbing a pair of hedge shears and cutting away haphazardly. Instead, timing depends upon the type of plant as well as its flowering pattern. Spring-blooming bushes like lilacs and honeysuckle produce blooms on the previous year’s wood growth. The best time to trim them is after they have flowered for the season but before new wood growth.
The timing differs if your shrubs bloom in the late spring or early summer like roses or hydrangeas. With these bushes, you should trim them in the early spring while the plants are still dormant. These bushes produce blooms on new wood growth which will occur during the spring. Thus, the plants will need to grow a bit before flowering later in the season.
How often you have to trim depends on the plant and its purpose. Hedges, for example, may require more frequent pruning than a lilac bush in the backyard. You should also plan on cutting bushes back at the end of the season especially for plants in need of a boost. Trimming the upper third of bushes will encourage new growth and rejuvenate overgrown plants.
Making the Cut
Some bushes like azaleas will need more maintenance in its early development to get them on the right track. For new bushes, maintenance will include cutting the plants down by a third at the end of each season until they reach the desired height. As with old shrubs, this practice will encourage stem growth, so the plants become full.
You’ll also want to remove any scraggly or thin branches. If they look out of place when small, it’ll become worse as they get bigger and become more noticeable. When you cut them, cut at a slight angle, so water doesn’t have a chance to pool at the site of the wound. Water and heat from the sun will create the perfect environment for disease and bacterial growth.
Likewise, you should avoid making steep, long cuts on the branch. While water won’t pool on the cut, the larger surface area leaves more of the plant vulnerable to pests. It can also delay healing by leaving more of the plant open to airborne pathogens. So, along with how you cut your bushes, maintenance of your hedge shears also plays a role in keeping your plants healthy.
This video by Lowe’s Home Improvement shows you how to cut shrubs and bushes properly as well as how to shape them.
Care of Your Hedge Shears
Keeping your hedge shears well-sharpened and rust-free is the best way to ensure good performance. Part of the reason lies with you. Well-maintained shears will work better and more efficiently, saving you time and effort. It will also minimize the damage to your shrubs. Remember, even though it’s necessary maintenance, pruning still creates wounds.
To minimize the damage and help your plants heal, you should keep your shears sharp to create clean cuts. Dull blades will crush branches and cause further unnecessary damage. The goal with pruning is to get the job done while inflicting the least amount of damage to your plants. That begins with sharp blades. As with other tools, a file can easily put the edge back on your shears.
Choosing Hedge Shears
You’ll find hedge shears in a wide range of price points. While pruning isn’t usually a time-consuming job, you still want to make it as easy and comfortable as possible. You should opt for a pair of hedge shears that provides the right balance between weight and durability. The weight factor will be important especially for trimming overhead branches.
Next, consider the handle and grips. For larger branches, you’ll need to put a lot force behind your cutting action. Cushioned grips and features that absorb the shock will make the job easier on your hands and shoulders. Some models have telescoping handling that will give you more leverage. They are essential for larger shrubs so you can trim without using a ladder.
Our Recommendation: ARS Professional Hedge Shears
Regular pruning gives your bushes and shrubs a good head start into becoming attractive additions to your landscaping. It will improve the appearance of your plants and help them conform to their intended purpose in your gardening plan. And it’s part of an effective routine to keep your plants healthy while looking great.
The ARS Professional Hedge Shears offers a tool of solid construction to tackle this necessary bit of garden maintenance. A strong pair of hedge shears is a must for heavier branches. The shears come with blades that will hold their edge. And to always be sure there are in top condition, you can swap out dull blades with replacements if needed.
Regular trimming of your bushes and shrubs gives you control over how your garden will look. It gives you a pro-active way to deal with wounded plants to minimize damage and disease. Routine maintenance for both your woody plants and your hedge shears will ensure that they look their best and healthiest.