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Cutting Hedge

To an extent, this is a difficult one to write…. To cut a hedge properly is like putting in writing how to kick a football. Anyone can do it, but how many can do it right or more to the point how many have ever done a seriously bad job on attempting to do good 😉

I asked a friend recently for her hedge cutting tip. She told me…

just make sure you don’t wear socks and sandals at the same time….

A fair point. But fashion aside, there are some things that should be considered before one even dreams of looking at the hedge.

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The machine: there are hedge cutters and hedge trimmers. Petrol and electric. My advice. Buy once and buy well. Also, from my experience, when that machine konks, won’t cut as well or goes stiff because it was left outside over winter…. you’ll thank me for [maybe] paying that extra ten euro.

What I bought was a petrol hedgecutters. With blades on one side only and a protector on the other side. Some like the double sided blades, but it’s not for me. The cutters will take about 2″ width in growth. A big strong sturdy baby, I’ve had it about 4 years now and believe me it is well  tried and tested. It is also regularly serviced.

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The Fuel:

Most machines will take a petrol and 2 stroke oil mixture. The biggest problems I have ever heard are caused when one does not add the mix in and the machine grinds to a halt or the mix is in the wrond doage.

As far as I am concerned, 2 stroke oil is just that. I chose to mix up the [small] green can [5 litre] to 100 mls of oil [the smallest white one]. That’s a 1:50 mix ratio. Or a wee bottle into a green can. Can’t go wrong. Some may say a different ratio but thats a little dependent on the machine. Whatever you do, like not putting diesel in a petrol car… keep them – mixed and not mixed – very separate and label well if you have to.

The Cutting:

This is the tough bit…. if you honestly believe you are going to get into trouble and are one of those that is just not for DIY garden chores; if you are nodding your head as you read this…. just call me. It will cost you money but your partner will still love you 😀

If you are going to cut it yourself…. remember the measure twice cut once rule.

There are a tips to getting it right…

The first: if you have a fence on the peripheral this can be used a guide where the blades or guard rest against and this is your straight line. This also works as regards the topping – if – the hedge is to be maintained at that height.

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If you don’t have a fence type guide you could make a temporary one that can be used year after year. The only other way is to select by eye, the lowest/ deepest point existing in the hedge and making an indent nearby and on again…. one then simply joins the dots makes the indents meet up. Note: This is where you really need to be able to use your looking down the barrel of a gun close one eye type of view. Funny as it sounds level hedge cutting is very much a case of practice make perfect and the day before Marys big 40th bash is not the day to start training.

If one removes an inch all the way across and you make hedge bevels, in the growing season it can be cut back out again, when it grows back. But when you are in the middle of October and the hedge will not grow back until the following season…. take a look at the above video 😉

The tips are fine for compact hedges; For those that are more sparse/ less formal, like the bay laurel [for eg] one can take elements of height out with a secateurs first and once again join the dots with the machine.

Other than that, I also like to use a garden shears. For height I very simply use some builders tressles [like small scaffolding] or a telescopic cutters – basically a hedge cutters on an extension pole.

Whatever you do, if you are doing it yourself… take your time, enjoy it and don’t forget to allow for sweeping up time before you start.

How do you cut yours….?

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December In The Garden

And what an end to November and a start to the month it has been…

Firstly to those affected in any way by the adverse weather conditions…. my sincerest best wishes to you all, I hope it sorts itself out as soon as possible. To those who chose to stand up to the Green Party politicos  [especially on RTE’s The frontline yesterday] more concerned with defending the amount of action groups who solve extreme weather conditions by sitting at a round table…. I applaud you. I also think Fionn has a point…

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But thats another days work…. and on to Gardens we go…. well, as best as is feasably possible….

You see gardening is a funny business. It’s not a subject that one can put off. The elements maybe against the preferred conditions – but if [for example] the bulbs aren’t planted in the garden this December… it’s now spring 2011 before you will see them pop up… you follow? If you put it off last month…. you’d better get them wellies on or be a very fancy dancer – one that can dodge rain droplets 😉

Despite the weather, I’ve still been working out there. You heard me 😆 It has to be done.

hedge cutting gardening-dublin landscaping-in-dublin-

first up is hedge cutting – some prefer to do it in the summer…. but if you have something like the forsythia which flowers on bare stems in and then goes into leaf – you’d be mad not to. Some say the best time is…blah blah blah 😉 I say, this when I’m doing my crataegus and my fagus. Its also when I’ve been cutting others escallonia… get the rakes, secateurs and the lopping shears out and go for it.

landscaping-in-dublin cutting back plants gardening-dublin

It is also a time for more select pruning. Maybe in this case the hedgecutters maybe a little too harsh. In this category I would add the removal of suckering growth – see the difference in leaves on the Corkscrew hazel [corylus avellana contorta – first image] ; the pruning back of smaller plants that have been let go a little – in this case the likes of the helichrysum [second image above – and similar in habit to lavender]; and also the pruning by hand saw of branches that have become a little elongated – almost tree like when it should appear as a shrub. Moreso, it is also to do with good garden hygiene.  

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But the biggest gig that most may possibly forget is the fact that it is tree planting season. The season when dormant and mostly native Irish trees get to go in the ground in their over wintering state. If you are looking for some ideas and names of, see this post on Irelands favourite native trees which can be planted now – I said now !!! Don’t forget the straps, buckles and tree stakes.

If you have existing trees – check the straps and buckles aren’t choking the trees – if they are – remove or loosen them.

Regarding your lawn…. you may get a cut in before the Christmas. Once again, the ye olde garden fraternity may suggest this is the wrong time – which is perfectly fine if it is the local croquet club… but if you are my Dad… well, you’ll be picking up the phone and telling asking me when am I getting my butt over to the house to cut that grass.

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After that – the bird feeders still need filling, the shed needs to be painted and I’ll guess you never did the new-ish garden furniture last month ….well don’t say I didn’t tell you 🙄

If you take my advice – sure get it all sorted – then go and buy some instant colour in the form of winter planters, window boxes and hanging baskets. Really brighten the place up…. God knows you deserve it. Now all you need to do is to go and get that Christmas tree 😉

Whatever you do and if you are doing it yourself… stay warm, dry and be careful. If you are getting the gardeners [at least for me anyways…!] in…. put the kettle on and give ’em a nice cuppa and a mince pie. If ever I wondered what a kite must go through…. recently is the closest I’ve ever come to realising it 😆 Oh and in case I forget…. do enjoy 🙂  

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Garden Hygiene

garden hygiene...

garden hygiene...

I remember when I was about 14 years old I’d been given this summer project of my parents front and back garden. Lopping shears, shears and my secateurs in hand I went for it.

The place had become quite overgrown. Of course when filled with plants like the Fuchsia, Forsythia, Eleagnus, Senecio, Spirea Ligustrums and the like… the types guaranteed to grow and what also would have been so popular and reticent of the 1980’s. I took them right down from about 10/12′ tall to about 2-3′. The place hadn’t been touched in ages. Within no time at all, Mom was out and I was being labelled a butcher!

One must appreciate that at this stage I had been working and reading up on my plants since I was about 5 years old and whilst I had done and been paid to do this for others…. Mom wasn’t impressed, at all! I think she liked things nice and very neatly trimmed… but never cut back for the benefit of the plant long term wise….

it left an unsightly appearance…  

The plants had become very woody. Extremely woody in fact. But as I said they are that genre. That is what this group of plants do.

The plants had grown into each other so much so that the bases of some had begun to rot. The flower quality wasn’t the greatest either and minor problems, albeit nothing that the more mature plant couldn’t cope with, had begun to appear on the foliage. Again, whilst not wasn’t such a problem for the bigger boys, the smaller more delicate plants nearby were getting a battering from insects, disease vectors and wind/ rain transferable diseases.

Garden hygiene as it is known is of great importance…

hygiene...

hygiene...

Assuming you have trees growing in your garden that will not grow to 60′ tall…. and assuming you live in a garden where that is not the case… one should prune upwards of the stem rather than ‘top’ the tree. Crown raise as it is known.

The more vigorous ‘shrubs’ should then be cut back and hard. This allows the regeneration of the new growth, the removal of dead and diseased wood from the plant and equaly as important the removal of a season long of debris falling to the base of the plant where micro climates may build up increasing the possibility of pest  and diseases.

The ideal scenario to create is that there is wind movement through the plants and this in itself will help prevent pests and diseases from harbouring within an extremely sheltered space that is your garden.  

This then also allows for the removal of any weeds or plants growing where they really shouldn’t be….

weeds...

weeds...

Once this is done… a good layer of bark down and you’re pretty much good to go. The key now is to remember how big the plants actually grew… so as you don’t end up putting plants into a gap where it won’t be seen in 6 months time or/and where overcrowding may once more occur. I guess a lot of this comes back to good planning and good design.

Do remember that it is a garden and it is supposed to be for enjoyment rather than endurance 😉 Also most plants are on the verge of dormancy and now is not such a bad time to get at this laborious chore. If the next question is ‘is now the righ time….?’ The answer is, if your garden requires some tending to and it will save the plant, even though it may not flower, then it is…

If you are unsure of what and not to do… don’t be afraid to pay for some advice and guidance and whatever you do make sure and get someone who really knows what they are talking about. Yes… someone as intelligent and as good looking [if that is possible…] as me 😆

Of course you can also leave a comment below…

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cutting down hedges…

is it wrong...?

is it wrong...?

….is wrong!! According to Neil Faulkes… not when it is the right thing to do. Pause. Please read on…

Neil was the brains behind the hlai event that took place at Sonairte Ecology centre Saturday 7th February ’09 – on hedge laying. I went along. I didn’t realise it was a course that was being done. But I paid my €3 in the door and went along to see what it was all about.

I watched Neil as the chainsaws and butchering tools literally hacked lumps out of the boundary hedge and brought them to a mere stump!! Is this correct one may ask? The answer is – yes – when it is right to do so.

What hedgelaying [in short] does is:

  • the hedge is cut to a stump which will regenerate
  • the mature wood just cut is staked down and then interwoven across
  • fresh whips are planted behind the screen where nothing is growing
  • the new/ fresh fence provides protection to the new plants
  • a stronger, better hedgegrow results.
  • a new/ better/ stronger ‘ecosystem’ and hedgerow has been developed
Neil and peter

Neil and peter

So would I go doing this in your back garden… possibly not! But it is great for people to understand this theory because in Ireland for no matter what reason – sometimes – if a tree/ hedge is felled – one is considered a butcher. And whilst butchers do exist – it is in my experience, for the greater good than the amputation [you know what I mean…!] is performed.

If you would like to see the hedge layers work you can pop out to Sonairte in Laytown, Co. Meath or take a browse through the photographs below.

Either or, Sonairte is well worth a visit [i will do another post on it soon] and really good for kids to get a visual understanding of how it [and it does] all work when you are soooo environmentally concious.

removing ivy…

cut here...This is another easy task that can [should!] be done in the garden. It also doesn’t require that much energy and is actually quite enjoyable!

It is considered generally impossible to remove ivy from trees. The only way, it seems, to do so when it is as mature as in this photograph is to cut it and [i prefer to..] remove a section. It doesn’t matter where as it will [again depending on the landscape] grow back.

The Ivy suckers into the bark of the tree and uses it to surge upwards to compete for light. Not a problem so far, but it can overcome the tree entirely to the point that the growth suffers and possibly to a point of necrosis.

Do be careful if the branches of the ivy are quite strong and when cutting not to damage the bark of the tree too much.

Now all you do is sit back and watch it die off… for a while!