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Last year i reduced the height of an old established Berberis Darwinii hedge 9 metres in length and 1 metre wide for a highly valued customer as its height was restricting the view across the valley , some bits of the hedge were sparse to start with but have since revived since cutting . 

The hedge is also growing back but its not growing level and a simple trim will not accomplish this and i am going to have to go back in and cut through thicker stems, The hedge is also a major focal point from the main window of the property and yesterday we discussed making the hedge as level as possible . 

Initially i used my Echo hedge trimmer which cut through the hedge okay but left some branches looking butchered which was remedied by cleaning up the cuts with secateurs . however i did feel at the time that although my Echo hedge trimmer cut okay the levelling of the hedge was difficult because as i cut through it the hedge lost it's top compactness and left gappy stems making it difficult to follow a line so there were peaks and drops which looked okay initially but as its filling out it looks terrible and un professional and i really want to achieve a quality finish . 

Any ideas welcome which i may have overlooked . Thanks . 





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  • If I'm reducing a hedge, I try and take it down significantly lower..6-12",  than I actually want it's final height to be when it regrows.......... it's then very easy to level the regrowth with the hedgecutter and there won't be any thick stems on the top to cause problems. .

    • PRO

      This is a good suggestion Graham . Problem i have is the desired  height of the hedge is approx 2 1/2 feet tall and it acts as a barrier betwwen the top garden and a 20 foot drop into the bottom garden normally accessed by steps , It worries me if its too low someone could fall over the hedge in the dark .

  • PRO

    Not sure im on the right track -- but could you allow some stems to grow upwards and then train them horizontally? 

    Fresh young verticle growth tied down to a horizontal wire ?  

    • PRO

      As opposed to re cutting the hedge do you mean Dan ?  I am not sure how vigoursly the Berberis would grow as the new stems are a bit wispy but i can see this working over time to raise the level and fill in gaps certainly worth a bit of experimentation . 

      • PRO

        can you take any photos John ? 


  • PRO

    Hi There,

    The advice from Graham is spot on... that burst of lush new growth will be butter to your echos hot knife... suggest extra prunings to get it quickly back in shape...


    Good luck

    • PRO

      Hi Paul the soft new growth will be easy but i have to also consider if there is a technical issue with the cutting method . i.e  some of the thicker Berberis stems grow in such a way that the moving blade gets dragged and twisted down , there is also ricochet and skimming in some spots I just wonder if the more powerful the machine the more effective the method or alternatively is it counterproductive  like trying to crack an egg with a sledge hammer . 

      The customer is not critical in any way but i am a bit anal when it comes to straight lines and edges lol . 

      • PRO

        I have never been the same since working with a company here in Belgium , that used laser levels to make sure all the tops of hedges were to the millimetre. No joke My jaw nearly hit the floor :-).......It is a thing of wonder I must add. So I can relate to your mania over the hedge. However it wont work on the bigger powerful hedgetrimmers. too much vibration. We used Electric METABO 's .Which were a pain at times, dragging around and cutting through cables but did the job. The reciever of the laser lever is fitted onto a plate on the trimmer.... and off you go  .... 

        What you mean is that when you make that initial incision , you wanna make it perfect? I'd definetely have the big sthl on the go, and a silky pocket boy saw to handle quickly and cleanly the bigger stems.You could always have the machine sharpened before you begin too. Oh and take your time. Perfection is never rushed!!!

        • PRO

          I was considering using a laser but decided this would be a bit over the top and questioned my sanity :-)  .  I think your point about vibration is a good one as it creates blade drag on this particular shrub yet the blade seems sharp . 

          I was told by the dealer that laser cut blades are ruined once sharpened but this machine cuts as good as the day i purchased it and it deals well with the rest of the topiary in the garden , i suspect its more to do with the habit of the shrub as its not compact and the blade tends to push the stems in some parts and they just vibrate , i think it will be a combo of loppers , machine and secauteurs . 

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