RENEGADE GARDENER

The lone voice of horticultural reason

Don’t trim hedges into a “V” shape.

I think homeowners do this under the mistaken impression that the great hedges of the world are vase-shaped. They’re not.

Clip hedges so that they are slightly wider at the bottom than at the top. One can occasionally create a hedge with perfectly straight, perpendicular sides if the hedge is running true north to south, but it’s risky.

Hedges (evergreen or deciduous) need to be wider at the bottom so that the bottom branches get enough sunlight to stay alive. Clip a hedge into a “V” shape and the bottom branches are shaded by those above, and soon die out. This is also good advice when pruning or shearing any stand-alone shrub.

The great hedges across America and the UK are all wider at the base than at the top, though sometimes subtly so. I so rarely give out homework on the site, but here’s one assignment for you: look up the word “batter” in the dictionary. Score big points at your next cocktail party.

Don Engebretson
The Renegade Gardener