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Recovering from hedge trimmer ‘pruning’

The whole garden has been ‘maintained’ by contractors who ‘prune’ with hedge trimmers. The result is rounded blobs of trees and shrubs with leaves on the outside and dead twigs within. As much advice as possible please on how to turn this around and achieve natural looking trees and shrubs. A good book on pruning? Where to start? Many thanks. 


  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 4,495
    A good first step would be to try to identify the trees & shrubs, as some may need differing pruning regimes. This will be harder without the natural shape of the plant to assist, but you should get some answers if you can post photos on here.
    When autumn comes you will be able to see through the deciduous ones and be able to distinguish the main branches you want  to keep, and crossing or damaged ones, along with dead wood, that need pruning out.
    For evergreens, if you know what they are, you can decide whether you would prefer them to acquire a more natural look, if they appear healthy, or keep some clipped. If they need it you may have explore  within to look for the source of the problem or just get rid.
    In any case there are going to be at least a couple of years while they are all growing out when they don't look great, but you should also start to get some flowers and maybe fruits in compensation :)

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,818
    edited July 2020
    There is a lot of info available online if you can identify the shrubs and trees.  The RHS website has info on pruning times and methods and there are videos on Youtube too.

    The first rule tho is to prune out the three Ds - dead, diseased or damaged - before you tackle shape.  Some groups of plant such as prunus should not be pruned in winter as this encourages silver lead disease, others like silver birch and willow are best not pruned once the sap starts rising in late Jan/early Feb as they can bleed to death.   

    Other pruning times are designed to promote flowering and fruiting so, as @Buttercupdays says, you need to identify what you have before you start shaping.

    You can use the little postcard icon above the message box to post photos if you need help identifying them.  If they don't load, reduce the size and, for ease of answering, don't post them all at once.   Break it up into groups of 2 or 3 at a time. 

    You'll need good tools too so make sure your secateurs are clean and sharp so you get clean cuts and don't introduce disease thru damaged wood.   A pair of long handled loppers will help with branches up to 1"/2.5cms thick.  More than that and you'll need a good pruning saw.   Wolf tools do one which can be fitted to a range of handle lengths to give you easier access to higher branches.   

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • KT53KT53 Posts: 8,708
    Many trees and shrubs recover very quickly after pruning, whilst others may not recover at all.  Without information on what has been pruned it's difficult to say more than that.

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