There comes a time in your life when you realize that you need to cut the dead wood out. It doesn't make sense to trim the hedges, when they're full of dead wood on the inside. Eventually you'll just trim them down to one big, dead bush. Now I don't want that to happen.
This was the hedge in front of our house last September, when we first looked at the house. Notice the big dead spot on the left side. That big dead spot extends deep inside, and all the way across. The dead needles and branches were several inches thick in places.
So finally, last week, I got out the clippers and showed the hedge who's boss. Notice the big bald spot now on the left side, and the unruly, shaggy bits everywhere else.
Here's a close-up of the new bald spot.
Looking at the hedge from the side, you can see how little is actually left of it. I pulled out a heaping wheel barrow full of dead needles and branches. Honestly, I couldn't believe how much dead material was in there choking it up.
This was a favourite hiding place for the swallows around our house and when you walked up to the front door you could see the whole thing shaking as they all panicked and darted through the insides before they took to the skies (or actually just flew over to the next bushes), but they haven't seemed to return to it since I destroyed their cover. I even found this old hive in there. Glad it's cleaned out now, and if the wasps, or bees, or whatever they were, try to nest in there again we'll be able to see it, and take necessary action. Previously, we never would have been able to see it, so it would have been hard to know what to do about it!
Unfortunately for me, the hedge fought back. I ended up with scratches and a rash up to my elbows on both arms, even though I was wearing a long sleeve sweatshirt and gardening gloves. Also ended up with a rash on my knees from kneeling in the dead needles, even with jeans on! Due to my white, pasty arms and freckles, I couldn't really get a clear picture of the rash on my arms, but here's a glimpse at my knee.
That was only about a week ago, so it still remains to be seen if the hedge will survive my onslaught. I tried not cut out any live branches, but I did a lot of pulling and tugging of them, trying to get in to the dead ones. If it does survive, I'll have to tuck some of the long, scrawny, and slightly pathetic branches into the dead spots and hope that they help to fill it in. I'm actually sort of hoping it will just die and I can cut the whole thing out and plant flowers there instead, and the only reason I didn't do that is that flowers for the garden are not in the current budget of bare necessities. I think it would be a lovely spot for some flowers, though!
However, I am a bit concerned that once we get rid of all the water absorbing hedges and shrubs out front, we may have problems with water in the basement or seeping through the walls. There is evidence of water coming through the block foundation at some point, but we haven't witnessed anything since we've been here. Mrs. S. says it happened 10 years or so ago, and then never again. We'll see. In the meantime, we'll leave the hedges until we can afford to plant something somewhat substantial in their places, and not tempt fate.