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A dense, straight hedge looks smart, clean, a bit like a manicured lawn. But a neglected or poorly trimmed hedge can be ugly for a long time… even more so than an abandoned lawn! Consider the relationship between man and hedge.

Posted at 12:00 p.m

Catherine Handfeld

Catherine Handfeld
The press

There are tailors and there are tailors. Jean Perrault sees himself as part of the second category. He has been trimming hedges and shrubs in the Basses-Laurentides region for 35 years. For him it is not only a livelihood, but also a passion. “I like going to work,” summarizes Mr. Perrault.

And his customers, he says, are proud, very proud, of their hedge.

“Some people have been trimming their hedges for 25, 30 years,” says Jean Perrault. They don’t put it in anyone’s hands, and for good reason. »


Jean Perrault cuts a hedge in Sainte-Thérèse.

Some of them accompany the trimmers throughout the process to ensure that the hedge is trimmed according to the rules of the art. Jean Perrault remembers this gentleman tapping his freshly trimmed hedge with his cane to give it a little volume, a bit like the customer running his hand through his hair on leaving the hairdresser’s.

“There are those who are meticulous in life. Her house is tidy, her car is clean, her parking lot is clean, there are no weeds on her lawn… It’s a whole. »

No in between

Jo’Anne Bélanger shares the same passion for the cedar hedge. (We say cedar in Quebec, but it’s actually western cedar.)


The Hedge by Jo’Anne Bélanger

Thanks to the little cedars she went to pick in the woods, Jo’Anne has grown two (majestic) hedges on her land in Saint-Sylvestre in the Chaudière-Appalaches to act as a windbreak. One for his swimming pool and another around the fireplace.

Its hedges are narrow, dense and straight.

“The thuja released as a tree is also absolutely beautiful. But if you plant it to form a hedge, you need to take care of it. We have no choice,” notes Jo’Anne Bélanger, who has seen hedges being felled with a saw for lack of love.

“I am a good witness to the disputes between neighbors that can be caused by cedar hedges! she adds laughing.

In his eyes we either like it or we don’t like it. “I don’t think there’s anything in between. »

“The Taste of Crying”

On the other hand, there are those who find that the cedar hedge attracts too many insects, those who find it old-fashioned, or those who are tired of annual pruning. There are also those who have nothing against hedges in general, but everything against THEIR hedge (or that of their neighbors). A hedge that has been left standing and subsequently trimmed too tightly, regardless of whether it is cedar or hardwood, leaves a lot to be desired.

  • Bouchra Moutayakine's hedge


    Bouchra Moutayakine’s hedge

  • Bouchra Moutayakine's hedge


    Bouchra Moutayakine’s hedge

  • Bouchra Moutayakine's hedge


    Bouchra Moutayakine’s hedge


When Bouchra Moutayakine bought her home in 2021, the cedar hedge that framed her property wasn’t very pretty. But when his neighbor decided to prune whatever he could on his side in hopes it would “grow better,” the hedge became downright unsightly.

discouraged mme Moutayakine had sought advice from a Facebook gardening group. “Every time I see her I want to cry,” she wrote.

A year later, the emotion is less strong (“I’ve gotten used to seeing her so ugly!”), but the hedge has hardly improved. Mme Moutayakine is aware of this: there is not much to do.

“It’s a shame, because a beautiful garden and a manicured hedge give the image of something majestic, even if the house isn’t majestic,” says Frau.me Moutayakine, who now has to deal with the “little neglected side” of his country.

Without forgiveness

In the eyes of horticultural columnist Larry Hodgson, author of The Laidback Gardener blog, people have cedars primarily to gain some reputation. In short, a bit like finding the perfect lawn. But the problem with Thuja is that it’s a plant “that doesn’t forgive,” he said over the phone.

If we cut in the green, the plant grows back. But if you cut too far in the brown wood, the branches there won’t turn green anymore.


Larry Hodgson

If after a year you haven’t had time to trim, the hedge exceeds the allowable height and you have to cut it, then it’s completely brown… and you can’t go any further.

Larry Hodgson, horticulture columnist

When it comes to an incident (like the woman who recently wrote to the Laidback Gardener about how part of her hedge was burned by a truck hose), “there’s not much to do,” summarizes Larry Hodgson, except grab Prune one a bit and hope the bottom stems will eventually grow enough to hide the hole.

Larry Hodgson prefers hedges of deciduous shrubs such as shrubby cinquefoil, bilberry, polar willow or Japanese spirea. Plants that grow back… and forgive. “That’s my lazy gardener’s view!” »

Tailor Jean Perrault agrees that sometimes the solution is to rip everything up and replant, but he prefers to explore other avenues first, such as B. Pruning and diverting the sap.

Redesign the screen

The relationship between man and hedge is also the relationship between man and intimacy, believes Émile Forest, gardener and general coordinator of New Neighborhoods, an organization that aims to transform our relationship with the territory. One of the reasons why we feel comfortable in nature is that it allows us to camouflage ourselves, he says. “The hedge is perhaps an extension of that,” sums up Émile Forest.


Plant bed in the front yard

To create this privacy screen, the hedge is one solution, the vine-clad wooden fence is another, but Nouveaux’s neighbors like to see things differently. “To encourage diversity, I think there’s a way to create plant beds by mixing different species that have slightly more organic shapes – maybe cedar or hemlock, but other shrubs as well.” »

Half of New Neighbors’ customers are suburban residents with cedar hedges. tear everything out? This is not generally what is recommended. Not only does the cedar welcome birds, but it is a native conifer that grew on the island of Montreal. Often, Nouveaux neighbors suggest their customers trim their hedge differently, let it grow a little, improve it with other species. Yes, agrees Émile Forest, we are losing ground, but we are giving back to nature. “To connect the rooms of the inner courtyard, we can create a network of paths surrounded by nature,” he says. It doesn’t have to be a white carpet with a cedar hedge in the background. »

Émile Forest also sees a parallel between the cedar hedge and the lawn, “two great natural beauties that have been domesticated and denatured”. “We’ve lost sight of what a cedar is,” he said. We use it in such a way that it doesn’t bother us, but that could be completely different, more varied. »

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