One of my readers emailed me to get an estimate on hedge pruning. She included this comment in her email: “You seemed very adamant that one should not sculpt [shear] their evergreens and trees. My husband has done this with quite a lot of plants and is probably not going to take kindly to harsh advice.” He had used shears to sculpt a number of plants quite attractively. They were not the typical ball and box shapes which we usually associate with sheared shrubs. Some of the pines had a distinctly Japanese look with spaces between branches. Topiary, where plants are sculpted into animal or other shapes, is another appropriate use of shears.

A hedge is another place where it is appropriate to prune with shears or power clippers. We want hedges to be thick and covered with leaves. It is necessary to prune more from the upper part of a hedge so that it is tapered inward (narrower at the top than the bottom). If the hedge is at least as wide at the bottom as at the top, plenty of light will reach the lower area which avoids leaf loss.