Drastically reducing a hedge

Hi, I want to cut down a privet hedge from 4 ft high and 3 ft wide to 2 ft high and 2 ft wide. I wear very strong glasses that make any straight line curved, so I want to set up a framework or guide to make sure I make a neat job with a horizontal top. Any ideas welcomed. Being on benefits I can't employ anyone to do it. |P
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wrote:

Bloke over the road runs a mower over his. Not good for cutting them down massively but my only suggestion for that is to not let me have a go as I'm very good at sweeping curves. You could spray the hedge and then cut it off...
Our hedges are much too thick on the separator bit but the front ones have been battered by the horrid youths who think its fun to run and push each other through it. Have been tempted to put some reinforcing in the hedge to protect it but suspect large metal spikes might get me into trouble.
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...

Replace some of the plants with very prickly stuff such as pyracantha or berberis. Holly's good too and some are faster growing than their reputation.
Mary
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On Tue, 25 Sep 2007 09:47:56 +0100

This is good advice. I had a problem, being the corner plot on a large town estate, with the local young people (bless 'em) using the Road Sign as a bar (elbow height, for some reason), and my garden as the place to put the empties for disposal.
I took cuttings of a Pyracantha and backed up said sign with them. In a year the problem ended for good. It also improved the look of the garden in winter with the red berries which attracted all sorts of birds.
It's only downside is that one needs strong leather gloves when pruning.
R.
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On Tue, 25 Sep 2007 09:47:56 +0100, "Mary Fisher"

?cut a bit out or start em at the bottom and let them force their way up. I suspect any tiny gap will just be used as a fairground attraction.
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Pete Bull wrote:

I used to suffer that, before I had a cataract done on my left eye. Its focus point was about 1 to 1 and a half inches from it, due to the change in shape of the eyeball and took away all perception of straight lines when wearing glasses.
The method I would use is stretch a line about 3 inches above your intended cut line and trim, using this as a guide. Lower the line to the final level and step back and look where you have to lower the cut line and trim carefully' taking a step back ever so often. As far as the width goes, who will notice?
Keep the line away from any chance of touching it with the hedge trimmer and everything should be OK if you can stretch it tight. Posts with guys that prevent the guide from drooping should work fine.
On the other hand... Take the trimmer and hold it at what height you want to end up with and hold it to your body and walk along the hedge. Even if you do not cut the full width of the hedge, you still have a guide as to where to cut.
If you are not using an electric trimmer, take a piece of wood, the same height as you want to trim and use secatures (sp) to cut the thicker branches. You will not be far out. Arm rests on wood, forearm is horizontal and snip snip till you get to the end.
Dave
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Pete Bull wrote:

I don't think it will work the way you want it to, at least not immediately... when you cut it at 3 feet high, there will be big chunks 'bitten' out of the result where branches which originally grew downwards are now missing: I would think it will eventually grow back to a nice flat top again, but it will take a couple of growing seasons or so.
David
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Lobster wrote:

Indeed. Cut it about 6" smaller han final size you want, and don't be prissy, then let it grow back 8" and DO get prissy, but that is next years problem.
Most hedges will get woody and have large lumps of stem sticking out if you do not occasionally cut them back beyond what you want, and let the fine growth make up the difference.
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You need to leave the hedge with enough leaves to keep it growing, which means you should only cut the top or one of the two sides back at a time. You then wait for that to grow back green before tackling one of the other faces. It is just about possible to do that in one season, if you start early but I wouldn't start it at this time of year.
Colin Bignell
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nightjar <nightjar@ wrote:

Depends entirely on the hedge.
We felled a 50 ft sycamore, and now its a sycamore hedge. Not a leaf was left on it.
Done the same with hawthorn: Down to a 2ft stump and wait for suckers.
Ive seen bare poles of Laurel and holly regenerate the same way.
I've seen a 40ft willow tree hat was the result of using a willow branch as a fence post.
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We had privet which had bolted up to 20ft high in places (due to previous owners not trimming it), looking more like saplings than a hedge. After some drastic treatment with a tree saw we were amazed that in about 8-10 weeks we started to get a really thick bushy privet back; its amazing stuff for recovering into a hedge.
I'd agree with other posters, cut it back a good 6 inches (or more) than you want it to finally end up, so that next time round you are just trimming the young stems and leaves to get it into a nice shape.
Matt
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The OP states is is privet, which you can kill by over cutting. It can also recover completely from serious cut-back, or it might recover in some places, but not others, leaving gaps.
Colin Bignell
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I concur - we have a Privet hedge which I have pruned gently about twice a year to keep it to a sensible height - I am now finding that individual plant are dying off (mainly from one end) and the hedge is getting rather thin.
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John wrote:

water and feed it and cut the bad plants well back.
If they don't make it plant new ones.
Hedges have life cycles too..mine are constantly need to be cleared of this and that, cut back, replanted..etc.
Only yew and beech and hornbeam seem to last forever,.
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Sounds more likely honey fungus!
AJH
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John wrote:

Over 40 years ago, I pruned a privet hedge down from circa 6' to 18" in one fell swoop to align with a low boundary garden wall creating a more open aspect for the fruit and veg. patch to the northern side. Took a few years to come back to a reasonable shape but for the last twenty x years has been the subject of topiary - a steam engine pulling carriages!
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