Straightening and levelling off of box hedging

Well to be honest, these tactics can work with any sort of hedge that you want to shape up and straighten. The methods are the same no matter on the size of the hedge just the equipment has to change

Levelling off and straightening hedges is a pretty skilled job to get really right so for that reason it’s getting a 5/5 on my skill level.

The tools required do depend on the thickness of the branches you are cutting, for this box hedge I used the following tools but for thicker hedges, saws and even chainsaws maybe required

  • Brick string line
  • Solid metal or wooden poles
  • Secateurs
  • Hand shears
  • Very sharp heavy duty shears
  • Lump hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Spirt level

A couple of points to add about the tools, it’s first of all very important to have them sharp as possible. also with the shears, they need to have heavy duty blades that are designed to cut thicker wood. I use the Bacho ones and find them excellent for this job. The string line is also important, this string line is designed to be used very taught and is perfect for the Job in hand, other string like twine, garden string may sag with the weight on. Also the colour of the string is important, with this string available in yellow or pink, it shows up very well against the hedge.

Timing is also quite important. I would only do box hedge reduction in mid-late spring up to late summer . There’s a good reason for this and that is the young growth on the box can be very easily frosted. It takes 3-4 weeks for the box to produce new growth, cutting it back from early autumn onwards will mean any new growth produced will be frosted and will allow any frost to enter the plant and cause damage during the winter.

The middle hedge is my chosen victim! I have already done the variegated box one in the summer months
First of all find the lowest point of the hedge, I do this with a tape measure and spirt level to get it exact
Once I know the lowest point, I have my working height for the hedge. This is the level I will cut too. You can of course have it any height but we are talking about reduction in this blog. I hammer in these pins every 1m on a curved bit of hedge and ever 3m on long section of hedges.
Road pins in place
Next step is to tie in the string at the right height. i start on the lowest section of the hedge. I do this by laying the spirt level down on the wide section so it doesn’t sink into the hedge then tie in the string line

The reason this string line is so important is that you can put a lot of tension on to the string and pull it very tight, I take the string line to my mark and then turn it around the pole so it is above the main line
By pulling it tight and then crossing over it, it traps the line in place and as long as you keep the tension on, it will stay nice and taunt
Once you have gone around the feature and the line is in place, you are ready to start cutting
Again laying the spirt level on the string line, you can start to get the right height of your hedge. I normally go around first with my secateurs and cut a 50mm section of the hedge down level with the line
Then with a pair of sharp shears I work my way around roughly getting it as level as you can. Worth noting that then using the shears cut in small bits rather than in large chunks otherwise it will look uneven again
A nice section with the top levelled
After cutting around the whole of the top roughly it’s time to start on the sides
The reason I do the sides second on small hedge reductions is because it’s easier to see the sides once you have roughly trimmed the top. Larger hedges it’s best to do the sides first. This one I can look over the top and check it’s right. Anyway back to the task in hand. Using a sport level and tape again, find the narrowest section and that’s then your width of the hedge.
Then I do the same as per the top, I go around marking roughly the line of material I want to remove using hand shears or secateurs
Then I go around and cut to those line using a straight bladed pair of shears. Much thicker wood can be removed with loppers if required before using shears
After doing the main side I go back around and measure and remark it out for the other side and repeat the process
Then it’s a case of going over the whole lot again really trying to get it as level as you can! Take your time and don’t rush but also don’t forget it’s going to take a year at least to get back to being prefect. But even so just try and get it as right as you can
Now that’s a little better!!
Time for the sides now and sharpen up that crisp edge!!
Now that is looking much better!!!!
The finished circle!! Now spray with a foliage feed and enjoy the perfect shape!!!!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.