Itís hedge cutting season. Simple enough, you dust off the hedge trimmers where you left them last year, give them a spray of WD40 and away you go.
Whether you want your hedge to have straight sides, sloping sides like an A, a round top, or a flat one is your decision. You should avoid an O or U shape as the light cannot get to the bottom and the hedge gets weaker, looking like it has little legs. For the more avant garde gardener a wavy top could be just the ticket, or castellations for the military type.
Most hedges can stand a severe cut back if they are getting too wide or tall. With the exception of Leylandii, once you cut through the shell of green foliage on Leylandii they never come back properly leaving unsightly brown patches.
We are told that Laurel should be cut back with secateurs one twig at a time. This is OK as penance if you have committed a great wrong. The reason for this is to avoid unsightly cut leaves. I always cut Laurel with a hedge trimmer, and have even resorted to a flail on a tractor when in a hurry with no ill effects.
Cutting a high hedge off a ladder is a great way to hurt yourself. The combination of soft ground, wobbly hedge and reaching that little bit further is pretty much guaranteed to cause a disaster even before you add a power tool to the mix. The hedge trimmers on a long pole are so much more sensible, you can keep your feet on the ground and make light work of it.
Picking up the trimmings is the biggest chore, you can lay down a sheet of plastic to catch them, or just rake them up. Then they need to be composted or burnt.
A neatly trimmed hedge always neatens up a garden.