Gardening Hedges Winter Protection

Shape Your Hedge for Winter

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The amount of effort some gardeners put into maintaining a perfect hedge in a snowy climate is quite phenomenal. Cages, burlap, twine… but is all that work really necessary?

If you live in a climate where snow buildup is common (certainly the case where I live), maintaining a hedge can be quite a hassle. Snow tends to accumulate on top in the winter and pulls the branches downward on either side, destroying its symmetry. And in spring, no amount of pruning, staking and cajoling ever seems to fix the damage. As a result, I see many gardeners out there in the late fall tying the hedge together with twine, wrapping it tightly in burlap or even building a wooden cage around it so it can resist the weight of the snow to come.

Yet there is an easy way of preventing this kind of damage: simply prune the hedge so it sheds snow rather than accumulates it.

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Flat-topped hedges are designed to fail in snowy climates.

Forget a flat top: it may look great, but it gives you a hedge that is designed to fail in snowy climates.

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Round-topped hedges sail through the winter with no care.

Instead, give the hedge a rounded or triangular top and snow will slide off without damage.

Leave flat-topped hedges to those who live in California, St. Tropez or elsewhere there is never any serious snow buildup. In snowy climates, be a laidback gardener and prune your hedge so it’s adapted to local conditions.

Or be even more laidback, and put in a no-prune informal hedge!012.K

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

1 comment on “Shape Your Hedge for Winter

  1. Barry Langille

    Your suggestion of an informal hedge also allows flowering to occur. Of course it also entails selecting a plant that is small enough for the area.

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