Trimming a cedar hedge no matter how long the hedge is, is time consuming and physically intensive. The first rule in the garden is safety and cannot be stressed enough. Please, please safety first. I have always been safe in the garden because everything is planned out and done with safety FIRST & FORMOST! Do not ever do anything you are uncomfortable with and never ever go on a ladder without a second person with you. Although I often work alone on many jobs, I never ever go on a ladder unless the garden owner is home and I have informed them I will be working on a ladder.
The basic tools I use are:
- 1. Steel toed work shoes
- 7. Safety Glasses
- 2. Orchard Ladder
- 3. Loppers…Fiskars
- 4. Hedge Shears…Fiskars Brand
- 5. Hand Pruners…Fiskars Brand
- 6. Pole Pruner…Fiskars
I always wear steel toed work shoes because I am all over the garden area, often working with wheel barrows (of heavy soil, weeds, branches, etc.) moving bags of soil or truck loads of soil, mulch, manure and also moving equipment such as Orchard ladders. A crushed foot or toe means a medical emergency and ultimately no work and no $$$$. Just like everyone else…I learned the hard way…a lesson that could have been much worse. A couple years back working in a garden, amending soil in January, I was wheeling full wheel barrows of mixed earth to a large garden area. The entire garden had a cement retainer wall 8 inches high enclosing it. It was perfect for dumping the wheel barrow as it would rest on the cement ledge when dumping. It was cold and wet that day as Vancouver Island often is in January. After hours of mixing and dumping I was almost finished the amendment. A couple more wheel barrows and I would be done. I tipped the wheel barrow to dump it and it fell off of the cement barrier and landed on my foot. I was NOT wearing steel toes and the pain was so intense that I felt nauseated. I had to leave the garden and go home. I was fortunate that I did not break my toe or foot …only bruised…missing two days work 🙁 Wow what a close call and a lesson learned. I do not enter the garden without wearing safety shoes now…better safe then sorry!
The other equipment which is a must especially around trees and shrubs are safety glasses! Save your eyes…trust me…it is so easy to get poked in the eyes. Safety glasses will also protect your eyes from dirt and debris as you trim…not only from trimming but also from dead matter being release from the branches when you disturb it. I own several pairs…some are clear and some are tinted…depending on the sun and light filtering through.
Orchard Ladders which are actually tripod ladders are much more stable and safe then four legs. The best orchard ladder is one (and most are) made of aluminum. They are light weight (although they too can be heavy and bulky to move) and easier to move and set up then other ladders. I always stand on the first or second step and bounce on it to ensure that it is stable before I ascend. As I am ascending I get my balance before I am more then a couple feet off of the ground and take only one tool up the ladder with me at one time. I can only use one at a time anyway so I don’t try and save myself time…it is unsafe. Balance is everything and it is much easier with only one tool. I work as efficiently as possible and descend as often as I need to. There is no such thing as time saving when it comes to safety.
I have trimmed hedges that are so high that I was in the bucket of a backhoe to reach. REMEMBER…DO NOT DO ANYTHING…that you are not comfortable with! I have no fear of heights and am confident when doing it. Always safety first!
Every Garden Owner is different so I consult with them before doing anything in their garden. Some garden owners like their hedge even across the top and sides, while others like it to look natural with one leader at the top and minimal trimming along the sides to ensure it fits with their natural landscape. I always ask first and consult with them throughout the job I am doing…Always, Always I create from customer’s wants…it is their garden…not mine!
Remembering if I am trimming evenly across the top that ground level is often not level so I must often descend and step back to ensure it is trimmed properly. If I am leaving one leader on the top of the tree (often there are several vying for the top position) then I look for the one that is nearest to the centre, straight and strong. Then I prune all of the others to the level of growth below the the main leader so that the leader will become stronger and the others will fill out with the rest of the growth. Often there will be only one leader…it too should be trimmed even if it is just a couple inches because it will stimulate growth…making it stronger and larger around. Also, if it is broken in a storm it must be trimmed.
Remember, trimming and pruning actually stimulates growth, the challenge is always to find the balance in that garden…trim too much and it will stress the tree or plant, trim too little and I know I will be back there trimming again before the season is over!
Happy pruning and trimming…see you in the garden or the garden centre! 🙂