Pruning A Tall Hedge & Shredded Paper Mulch

Question:

Despite an annual trimming, our Privet hedge is over eight feet tall with all the new growth concentrated at the top. What can we do to reduce the height and stimulate more growth to fill in the lower gaps?

Answer:

  • It’s not unusual for a tall hedge to develop gaps or to be sparse in sections.
  • The purpose of a hedge is to form a barrier as quickly as possible. Once it reaches the desired height, it’s then assumed that the lower part of a hedge will fill in on its own. Unfortunately, the taller the hedge, the less likely this occurs with just an annual pruning.
  • Typically, three to four times a year is the norm, starting with the first flush of growth in the spring. The lateral growth is the key to a dense hedge. While the hedge is developing, it is recommended to fertilize after every shearing with an all-purpose fertilizer to encourage more growth.
  • Once the hedge has matured, a spring feeding is sufficient. Ideally, you should develop the lower section of hedge first by keeping the hedge at static height.
    • Once it has filled in, you raise the height until you have reached the desired height. This rarely happens, as we’re too impatient for the barrier to form.
    • Another contributing factor to the bottom gaps is the plants are spaced too far apart. This is one of the few exceptions for plants being planted closer to one another than normal. Here is what I would do now. I’d determine what the desired height is and prune it back to that point. This is an excellent time to do so as the spring flush of growth is beginning.
    • Next, to fill in the more significant gaps at the bottom of the hedge, I’d plant a few more new plants. This is the quickest way to fill in these areas and then fertilize the entire row of plants.
    • The final step is to trim the hedge once a quarter.
  •  Typically, hedges are prune with straight sides: however, over time it gets very shady at the bottom. You increase the light by tapering the hedge like a trapezoid with the narrowest section at the top. The reduced light is another cause for the lower sections of hedges to thin out.

Question:

Is it okay to place the contents of a paper shredder into our compost pile?

Answer:

  • It's perfectly okay to use shredded paper in a compost pile. Along with straw and cardboard,  I recommend it as a substitute for the brown leaves, especially during the summer months.
  • Don’t be concerned with the colored inks. Today’s newspapers are one hundred percent non-toxic.
  • Shredded paper is also recycled as mulch. I'd spread the paper over an area, wet it down to remove the air pockets and then cover it with any of the traditional mulches. You can also do this with sheets of newspaper. Ultimately, you're looking for a three-inch layer. Besides, conserving moisture, mulching prevents the weeds seeds from germinating.