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I have planted this lilly pilly in my background and it has grown rather tall. It is about 1.5~2m tall now. It is not obviously in the picture but it is located at a corner.

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I want to trim it down and preferably just a bit taller than the fence. However this hedge trimmer I have (Bosch AHS 48 Li) is not really up to the job. It couldn't reach the sides facing the fence and the top, even though I have used a ladder.

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My questions are:

1) What kind of power tool is best suitable to trim hedge of this size? Hopefully it is battery powered.

2) The lilly pilly is currently flowering. Is it a good time to trim it?

3) How regularly I should trim it? I have not been diligent during the winter time and I feel that it have grown rather unkempt.

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To answer the part of your question...

The lilly pilly is currently flowering. Is it a good time to trim it?

No, do not prune while it is flowering.

As a general “rule of thumb” for pruning shrubs and trees, prune after flowering and before too much new growth has progressed.

There are obviously exceptions to this rule.

This does apply to your lillypilly, so wait until it is finished flowering before you prune.

The reason... plants place a lot of energy into growing their flowers. If that process is interupted or cut short (bad pun), the plant has “wasted” that energy and in my experience, that can be enough to set a plant back for one or two seasons.

To answer the part of your question...

How regularly I should trim it?

This is based upon a number of factors...

  • How quickly does the plant grow (which in itself is based upon a number of factors, such as how often you water and fertilise, your garden location and climate in comparison to the lillypilly’s natural habitat and range);
  • How “neat” you want the plant to look (i.e. a more natural round shrub shape or a more square shape closer to topiary);
  • How dense you want the plant to look (closed in habit with small leaves and branches growing very closely together or more open habit with larger leaves and branches more spread out).

Generally it is best to schedule one or two trims during the growing season (spring and summer).

A more open habit will require less pruning - once or twice during the growing season.

A more dense habit will require more pruning - five to six times during the growing season.

As a side note, when cutting back an overgrown shrub or tree, I always try to leave some tall growing tips, even if the plant looks a little unsightly, until the trimmed part of the plant begins to grow again. This helps to reduce the stress on the plant.

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The least expensive tool to use that will also be effective are loppers and a ladder. That hedger is not meant for this level of hedging. Not even close. A ladder, sharp/bypass loppers with long handles, could do this job within an hour including debris cleanup. Focus on the height just below the top of the fence. Don't try to be perfect, let there be at least 6" to 8" difference in tops. It will look more natural and grow out more natural. Yet still accomplish your goals.

This is the trick; you need to do only 1/4 of that upper portion now, another 1/4 in a few weeks, another 1/4 a few weeks more and finish a few weeks after that.

The best hedger for a job like this is a gas powered, 2 stroke engine such as Stihl. Reciprocating blades like your little electric but far more capable. I would still use my loppers or pruners (Felco) to take most of that mass down in stages. The gas powered hedger would be great in the spring and then fall for maintenance.

Keep the top of the shrub narrower than the bottom. Thinning this shrub would be healthy to do, that means taking out separate branches from the main stem. Have you fertilized this shrub?

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