10 Steps to help and revive a dying, sick or neglected overgrown hedge.

In most cases a hedge is grown from a fast growing, but still robust perennial shrub. Most of these can take a hard pruning and come back quite quickly. Depending on the severity of the damage one will need to make a call on replacing the hedge, some of the plants that form the hedge or giving it a hard pruning to reform the shape and health of your hedge.

If your hedge is in a not so healthy or overgrown state, follow these steps and tips to restore its former glory.

Step 1: Evaluate and assess. Pull back the outer branches to access the inner growth pattern and structure of the hedge.

Step 2: Remove any dead and diseased plant material.

Step 3: Nominate poor performing and affected branches and cut them back hard. Ideally make these cuts where healthy shoots join the branch.

Step 4: Prune off excess growth to encourage air and light movement within the hedge.

Step 5: In the case of severely overgrown hedges follow the steps above and additionally remove the top third of the plant to around 20 cm beneath the final desired height for the hedge. If more than one third needs to be remove do so over two growing seasons.

Step 6: If entire plants of the hedge have died back remove them and replace with new strong plants.

Step 7: Always feed and water any hedge well after a hard pruning. The hedge needs energy for the encouraged growth from somewhere and with less foliage it is not able to photosynthesis as well as usual.

Step 8: A deep watering less often is always better than shallow regular watering, this encourages a strong deep root system. Regular watering however is necessary for a week or so after cutting back.

Step 9: Apply a layer of mulch or compost around the base of each plant to improve soil temperatures and provide nutrients to leach in during watering.

Step 10: Gradually reshape and form the hedge with future pruning throughout the growing season

Tips when pruning and reviving a sick, dying or neglected overgrown hedge:

  • Keep a close eye on the new growth of your rehabilitated hedge, this succulent new growth is tender and susceptible to fungal and disease infestation. Keep a close eye on your hedge until newly grown foliage is fully hardened.
  • Always feed and water a hedge well after pruning hard and removing excessive plant material.
  • Never add diseased material to a compost heap.

This article first appeared on http://plantinfo.co.za