The Art of Autumn Hedge Trimming: Masterclass
As the temperatures begin to drop and the leaves turn crisp, it’s time to prepare your hedges for winter. Are you ready? Whether you are prepared or not, this resource will provide you with a masterclass in autumn hedge trimming. WHC Hire is committed to each and everyone to aid in helping them get the job done, and done properly.
Because of this, we wanted to put together a resource on all the tips to benefit you and your clients. Quality hedge trimming is essential throughout the year to promote and protect all types of hedges and bushes. This resource will cover the reasons why autumn is the time to start doing so, the tools you need to start and the mistakes to avoid. Let’s take a closer look.
Why trim your hedges in Autumn?
Autumn is an extremely busy season in the calendar for pruning and cutting all types of hedges, shrubs, and bushes. But why so in Autumn? Well, this season marks the beginning of the long slope into the slumber season. Meaning, at this point, the fruits will have been harvested and the largest amount of growth will have been completed for the year.
Autumn hedge trimming should take place in the warmer weeks before the first frosts. The real goal here is to preserve and protect the hedge or plant over the winter, ready for new growth in spring. This is done by reshaping, removing dead branches and thinning out where required. Let’s have a closer look at each one of these tasks in detail:
When reshaping, your goal here can be both aesthetic and health-related depending on the hedge. By doing so you can control the growth of the hedge better and keep it looking its best after the main growing season.
Removing Dead Branches
This task is important for the health of your hedge. Leaving dead branches in your hedge over the winter months can be detrimental, especially if they are not attended to. To avoid lasting damage, all dead branches should be removed and severed correctly against their supporting main branches or crotches. This prevents the possibility of the hedge becoming infected or diseased.
Depending on the type and goal of the hedge, thinning can be another crucial task during your Autumn pruning. Thinning involves the intentional removal of various branches within the hedge canopy to redirect the growth energy come spring.
Depending on the species and health of the hedge, will determine the type of work that is required. However, the most common one is reshaping. Reshaping hedges can take place as many as twice a year depending on the rate of growth. Nevertheless, to complete any of these tasks, you are going to need to correct equipment to do so.
Let’s now have a closer look at the tools and equipment you will need for autumn hedge trimming.
Tools and equipment for autumn hedge trimming
Having the right equipment to do the job is essential to get the job done safely and in a suitable timescale. Planning well ahead is always key so that you don’t come up short when you first start. When tackling autumn hedge trimming, it is common to use the following tools and equipment to get the job done. Remember that not all of these may be suitable for your project, but it is worth bearing these in mind during your planning stage.
- Petrol hedge trimmers
- Long reach hedge trimmers
- Secateurs (Puring sheers)
- Leaf Blower
These powerful machines consist of a petrol engine and a long cutting bar that allows room for large passes. This means you can cut a huge amount of hedge at once without having to break a sweat. Cutting is achieved by blades moving back and forth inside the cutting bar. For more information on petrol hedge trimmers, we highly recommend checking out this other WHC Hire Resource: “Why Garden Maintenance is Simple With Hedge Trimmer Hire”.
Similar to standard hedge trimmers, these machines provide cutting power at a long reach. Their cutting blade, however, is much smaller. They are the ideal companion to be used with a pair of normal petrol hedge trimmers to reach those out-of-touch places.
For small pruning or reshaping tasks, a pair of sheers could be the ideal companion to have on hand. These hand-powered tools act like a giant pair of outdoor scissors. They are lightweight and easy to use in small, enclosed spaces.
Secateurs (Pruning sheers)
Secateurs are designed for pruning specifically. If your task requires any thinning or removal of small deadwood branches back to their crotches, these tools are ideal. These are very sharp implements designed to cut through branches up to half an inch in diameter.
One factor you may need to navigate is the height of the hedge you plan to work on. This may require you to use a pair of ladders to reach the top of the canopy. Step ladders are extremely common when cutting hedges in Autumn as they give you a safe platform to work from.
Now that we have had a look at how we can do the cutting part, it’s time for the clean-up. Rakes are possibly the next most important tool you are going to need when tidying your cuttings. They allow you to quickly organise and dispose of the waste you have created. Their design allows for a swift and easy use to organise and collect debris.
The last piece of equipment you may want to consider for your autumn hedge trimming is a leaf blower. These petrol or electric power machines can allow you to gather debris quicker and more efficiently. Leaf blowers are not essential but can make a huge difference if you are trying to reduce labour hours.
Now that we have looked at the potential equipment you may want to use, here are the factors you will need to consider to help you choose.
Factors to consider when choosing your equipment
During the planning of the task, you need to make sure that you are adequately prepared to get the job done. As we have given you a wide range of different equipment that will assist in autumn hedge trimming, you will want to consider these factors:
- What type of hedge trimming you are doing? Reshaping, Pruning, Thinning?
- Scale of the project?
- Reach required?
- Space you have to work with?
- Height access required?
By addressing all these questions, you will certainly be able to confidently select the appropriate equipment you need to complete your project. It is common that you may want to complete more than one task during the time you have set aside, therefore ensure you are prepared for all possibilities.
Now that you are all geared up, it is time to get prepared to start your Autumn hedge trimming.
Recommended PPE for Autumn Hedge Trimming
It is important that before head trimming you ensure you have the correct PPE on hand to protect you when working. Even though this is a very common task, there is always a risk. However, the correct personal protective equipment (PPE), will ensure your safety whilst carrying out your project.
Some potential hazards you will have to navigate are flying debris, slips and trips, working at heights, thorns, vibration exposure and exposure to fumes. Here are some recommendations to cover all of these hazards.
PPE List For Hedge Trimming Projects
- Safety Glasses or Goggles: These are important to protect yourself while using all of the equipment we have mentioned in this resource. It is very common for dust and particles to affect the eye area. Wearing safety goggles or glasses will prevent this from happening.
- Ear Protection: Hedge trimmers and other petrol-powered equipment are loud. Which in turn can be harmful to your hearing. Therefore, it is best advised to always wear appropriate hearing protection.
- Gloves: When working with organic natural material, you need to protect your hands. Many bushes and hedges are full of sharp edges or thorns that can puncture bare skin. Always ensure you choose adequate hand protection for the hedge you are working with. For example, a hawthorn hedge will require heavy-duty gloves.
- Long-Sleeved Clothing: Covering your arms and legs with the appropriate clothing is essential when completing your autumn hedge trimming tasks. This will prevent any falling cuttings from scratching your skin.
- Steel-Toed Boots: Slips and trips are always a hazard in every task that we do, therefore it is important to wear the correct footwear. Steel toe cap boots with adequate grim are the most appropriate PPE to prevent this measure.
- Dust Mask or Respirator: Cutting hedges will release dust, pollen and machinery fumes into the air. Therefore, you should always wear some a dust mask or respirator to prevent inhalation.
- Taking Regular Breaks: For long periods of hedge trimming, it is important to take regular breaks to minimise your overall exposure to vibration. If for any reason your hands or arms start to tingle you must immediately stop work. All tools should be regularly tested to monitor vibration exposure.
- Equipment For Working At Height: Make sure you have all the equipment you need to work at height. This will include PPE such as a helmet, and access equipment such as scaffolds or ladders that are in good working condition. Do not use access equipment if it is not appropriate for the job at hand.
Hedge Trimming Techniques For Autumn
There is no better time to prepare hedges for winter than in the Autumn months. Now that you have got your equipment and the correct PPE, let’s have a closer look at some techniques to get the job done. Let’s start by identifying any disease or deadwood.
This first step is to assess the entire hedge. By doing so you can identify any disease or damage that I may have. Any deadwood or diseased branches must be removed to avoid the hedge becoming infected. To do so you may wish you use secateurs here. Cut all dead or diseased parts right back to their man stems or crotches.
Following this is to establish the shape after removing any dead or diseased branches. This can be done with either sheers or a hedge trimmer. If you wish to, you can also use a string line to aid you in cutting a straight line. Cutting should always commence with the sides first before the top. When using a hedge trimmer, you want to angle your trimmer slightly inward to remove the newest growth being sure to not over-cut. Heavy hedge reductions can be fatal, so aim to reduce and reshape.
Finally, repetition. This type of hedge-trimming technique should be completed bi-annually. In the Autumn and in the Spring, either side of Winter. Some hedge species are sensitive to frost so always try to cut before and after.
Common mistakes to avoid when hedge trimming in Autumn
When hedge trimming in autumn, the last thing you need is to make any mistakes. Here are so very common mistakes that you can easily avoid during this task.
Cutting Too Much Away: Overcutting is really popular and can leave your hedge damaged and susceptible to disease over the winter months. Always pre-plan how much you are going to remove based on the hedge’s health, species and overall final shape.
Bad Timing: Timing is everything when it comes to cutting hedges in Autumn. You shouldn’t cut hedges during a frost as this can cause irreparable damage. Therefore, always ensure it will be middle for a few days post-cutting.
Using Blunt Equipment: Using blunt equipment can directly affect the way in which the hedge will heal itself after cutting. Poor cutting slows down the healing process and leaves the hedge more open to potential infection. Leaving clean cuts allows calluses to form quicker and easier.
Leaving Debris: Always remove all debris from the top and around the hedge after cutting. Debris can be a dangerous trip hazard on the floor or can encourage disease if left in a hedge.
Trimming Wet Hedges: Avoid cutting hedges in the wet as it can cause damage. You should always wait till the foliage you are cutting is dry to leave you with a clean, neat finish.
Not Wearing PPE: This mistake is commonly missed and can lead to operators hurting themselves during cutting. Ensure you wear all the PPE you need to safely carry out the task correctly.
Using The Incorrect and Improper Use of Equipment: Always ensure you have the right tools to complete the hedge trimming task. Additionally, you need to be certain that the equipment is in good working condition prior to starting your work. Incorrect equipment use can raise the risk of injury occurring.
Ways to get hold of hedge trimming equipment
There are many ways to get your hands on hedge-trimming equipment. The two most common, are by either renting or purchasing. Both methods are easy and quick to do, however, the real question is which one is best for you.? Hedge trimming equipment is quite readily available but making the most suitable decision is down to you.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself whether you should hire or buy your autumn hedge trimming equipment.
How often will I use this equipment?
Is the equipment affordable and within budget?
Where will you store it?
Who will maintain it?
What is the best value for money over time?
By asking yourself these questions you can start to paint a picture of which method is most likely going to work out best for you. If you intend to use the equipment every day for business purposes, then purchasing the equipment may be a suitable option. Then only rent any extra you need as and when you need it. However, if hedge trimming is not something you conduct regularly, hiring the equipment can save you a huge amount of money.
If you are stuck between choosing to buy or hire equipment like this, you should check out this resource that will help you piece everything together. “Buy vs Hire Construction Equipment”
Where to hire autumn hedge trimming equipment
If you are looking to hire autumn hedge trimming equipment for your project this year, then look no further. WHC Hire Services provides state of state-of-the-art equipment suitable for commercial and DIY use for projects of all sizes. For over 25 years, we have been providing world-class equipment from some of the biggest global brands to gardeners, landscapers, ground maintenance teams and homeowners. Looking for one or many pieces of hedge trimming equipment, then check out our large range of garden machinery ready for you to collect or be delivered to your doorstep. Let’s help you get the done! Visit our gardening catalogue here, or call 01684377977 today!