If a spruce-up of your hedges is on the cards this bank holiday, our top tips can help you to get great results.
Whether you're a regular pruner or using your shiny new hedge trimmer for the first time, following our dos and don'ts can help your hedges look their best.
If you have lots of different types of hedge you might be tempted to get them all done in one go, but there are benefits to cutting hedges at certain times.
The good news is that most hedges only need to be cut once or twice a year, so you won't be spending hours toiling in the garden.
The best times to cut your hedges are:
Bamboo canes make the job much easier when you're shaping a longer hedge. Push two into the soil at either end, then tie them to shorter canes at a 45-degree angle pointing away from the hedge. These will stop the upright canes from pulling inwards.
Then tie more string above the hedge to get a straight side, and another around 1cm below the height you want your hedge to be.
Trimming within the string helps to shape your hedge. Start at the bottom of each side working upwards, then cut the top last.
If your hedge is dense with fine leaves, it's best to leave the base wider than the top for a more solid look and healthier plants, with sunlight more able to reach the bottom leaves.
After you're finished trimming, it's important to get rid of your clippings. They could create damp, airless conditions that breed fungal diseases in your hedge.
Spread a plastic sheet besides the bush to catch clippings as you go. Once you're done, brush or rake the loose twigs from the top of the hedge.
If you have larger-leaved hedges, you might prefer to let them grow out a little. Bright flowers and berries add a pop of colour to your garden and they're great for attracting bees too.
Informal hedges still need some maintenance though. It's best to cut after flowering to help the hedge keep its shape. If you're happy to let berries and hips grow freely you can get away with doing one hard cut back every few years.
If your hedges are tall, it's a good idea to invest in a special hedge-cutting platform or a special long-reach hedge trimmer.
These have telescopic handles that extend by around 20-30cm, and can be used at a right-angle so you can get a neat cut on the top of a hedge.
It's against the law to knowingly damage an active bird's nest, so you'll need to be extra careful when you trim your hedge.
Birds usually nest from March until the end of August. Keep an eye on your hedge for a few days before you intend to trim - if you see any birds coming and going, you'll need to wait until the Autumn, when the chicks have flown.
Hedge trimmers these days come with several safety features, but you should still take precautions while you're trimming.
At a minimum, you should wear safety googles or a visor to protect your eyes from any flying twigs or debris. Hedge trimmers aren't the loudest tool in the garden, but ear defenders help protect you from the constant hum. Strong gloves and work boots help keep your hands and feet safe too.