Skip to content
Nursery Open 7 Days 9:00am - 5:00pm | Order Line Open Monday - Friday 9:00am - 5:00pm 01565 722766
Nursery Open 7 Days 9:00am - 5:00pm | Order Line Open Monday - Friday 9:00am - 5:00pm 01565 722766
The Ultimate Guide to Trimming Hedges

The Ultimate Guide to Trimming Hedges

The Ultimate Guide to Trimming Hedges

A beautifully trimmed hedge can transform your garden into an outdoor oasis. The art of hedge trimming is a mix of technique, timing and a little bit of creativity. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of hedge trimming, from the basic steps for beginners to advanced hedge trimming styles and the essential tools you need. We'll also discuss when to trim your hedges, the do's and don'ts of hedge trimming and provide specialised tips for different hedge types.

Top Tips for Hedge Trimming

Even if you're a complete beginner, you can achieve a beautifully manicured garden. Here's a step-by-step guide to get you started:

  • 1. Assess Your Hedge: Begin by evaluating your hedge's current state. This will help you determine the extent of trimming needed.
  • 2. Select the Right Tools: Ensure you have the necessary hedge-trimming tools, including shears, a hedge trimmer, secateurs, gloves, safety glasses and a ladder for tall hedges.
  • 3. Time Your Trim: Choosing the right time for trimming is crucial and will depend on your hedge type.
  • 4. Safety First: Prioritise safety by wearing protective gear to shield yourself from debris and potential accidents.
  • 5. Make Measurements: For a straight top, tie string about 1cm below your desired height to canes or, for large hedges, use stakes at either end of the hedge.
  • 6. Begin Trimming: Start by trimming the sides of your hedge to create a neat, vertical surface. Gradually work your way up to the top. Ensure that the top of the hedge is narrower than the base to allow sunlight to reach all parts of the hedge.
  • 7. Maintain a Sloping Shape: Whether a formal or informal hedge, most hedges look best with a slight slope – narrower at the top and wider at the bottom.
  • 8. Finesse the Finish: Once you're satisfied with the overall shape and have hit the desired height, finesse your work. Trim any straggly branches and give your hedge a crisp finish.
  • 9. Clean Up: Remember to dispose of your clippings into your green waste to keep your garden tidy.

When to Trim Hedges in the UK

The United Kingdom's climate can be a bit temperamental, making it essential to time your hedge trimming just right. The best time for hedge trimming in the UK typically falls into two categories:

Late Winter/Early Spring (February to March): This is an ideal time to trim deciduous hedges, such as Beech, Hawthorn or Hornbeam. This avoids nesting birds, and it is when the worst of the winter weather has passed.

Late Summer/Autumn (August to September): For evergreen hedges like Yew, Buxus (Box) or Laurel, late summer to early autumn is perfect. It gives your hedge a tidy look before the colder months while avoiding bird nesting season.

How Often Should I Trim My Hedge?

The frequency of hedge trimming depends on the type of hedging plant you have. Here are some guidelines:

Fast-Growing Hedges: Hedges like Leylandii can be incredibly vigorous. They may need trimming two to three times per year to maintain shape and size.

Slower-Growing Hedges: Deciduous hedges, like Beech, may only require one trim each year. They grow at a more manageable pace.

Evergreen Hedges: These hedges often need one trim per year, usually in late summer or early autumn.

The Ideal Weather for Hedge Trimming

The best weather for hedge trimming is when it's dry and slightly overcast. Avoid trimming in strong winds or extreme heat, as this can stress your hedge and lead to poor results. It's also advisable to avoid trimming during frosty conditions, as this can damage your hedge.

The Do's & Don'ts of Hedge Trimming

Trimming hedges can be straightforward when you follow these do's and avoid the don'ts:


  • Wear the Right Safety Gear: Always protect yourself with gloves, safety glasses, and sturdy clothing.
  • Sharpen Your Tools: Dull tools, such as shears, can harm your hedge and make your work more challenging.
  • Trim on Overcast Days: Mild, dry weather is ideal for hedge trimming. Maintain Your Tools: Keep your hedge trimmer sharp and clean for optimal results.
  • Trim Deciduous Hedges in Late Winter: For hedges like beech or hornbeam, this is the best time.


  • Trim During Bird Nesting Season: This can disrupt nesting birds and is illegal in the UK.
  • Over-Trim: Avoid removing too much foliage at once (even for overgrown hedges) as it can stress the hedge.
  • Trim During Extreme Weather: High winds, extreme heat, or frost can harm your hedge.
  • Trim Yew Hedges in Winter: This can make them more susceptible to disease.

How to Trim Your Hedge Straight

Achieving a perfectly straight hedge requires precision and patience. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you achieve a flawless straight hedge cutting:

  • 1. Use a Guide: To create a straight line, set up a taut string or a garden line along the top of the hedge as a guide.

  • 2. Start from the Bottom: Begin trimming from the base of your hedge and work your way up. Always follow the guide string.

  • 3. Maintain the Slope: As mentioned earlier, it's essential to maintain a slight slope for even sunlight distribution.

  • 4. Regularly Check Your Progress: Pause occasionally to step back and assess your work. This will help you ensure you're maintaining a straight line.

Tall hedges can be difficult and unsafe to handle yourself and may require specialist guidance.

Hedge Trimming Tips for Different Types of Hedges

Different hedges have unique requirements when it comes to trimming. Let's explore some specialised tips for different hedge types:

Evergreen Hedges: Evergreen hedges like Yew and Buxus (Box) are relatively low maintenance. Keep them neat by trimming them during late summer or early autumn.

Deciduous Hedges: Deciduous hedges such as Beech, or Hornbeam require a different approach. Trimming during late winter (February to March) is ideal.

Flowering Hedges: Hedges that produce flowers, like Lavander or Hydrangea shrubs, should be pruned right after flowering. This encourages healthy growth for the next season.

The type of hedge is a critical factor in determining the best time to trim, how often, and the techniques to use. Here's a quick summary:

Evergreen Hedges: Trim in late summer to early autumn. Shape as needed.

Deciduous Hedges: Trim in late winter to encourage new growth. Focus on maintaining shape.

Flowering Hedges: Prune right after flowering to maintain health and appearance.

Hedge Trimming Styles to Consider

Hedge trimming offers you the chance to explore various styles and designs to suit your garden's aesthetics. Here are some popular hedge trimming styles:

Box or Square Shape: Achieve a formal, neat appearance with a squared-off hedge.

Cloud or Bonsai Style: Create intricate, cloud-like shapes or intricate bonsai designs.

Advanced Topiary: Craft ornate animal or geometric shapes for a striking focal point.

Each style requires different levels of expertise and maintenance, so choose one that aligns with your gardening skills and patience.

Tools for Hedge Maintenance

For hedge pruning, you'll need the right tools in your arsenal. Here's a handy list of essential hedge-trimming tools:

  • Hedge Shears or loppers: Ideal for precision work on small hedges.
  • Hedge Trimmer: Perfect for tackling larger hedges quickly.
  • Secateurs: Handy for cutting thicker branches.
  • Ladder: Ensure safety and reach for tall hedges.
  • Gloves: Protect your hands and provide a better grip.
  • Safety Glasses: Shield your eyes from debris and potential accidents.

Don't forget that maintaining and cleaning your tools is equally important to ensure they stay in good working condition.

Whether you're a novice or an experienced gardener, these tips and insights will help you achieve the lush and healthy hedge you've always dreamed of. With over 35+ years of experience of horticultural experience, let us help you maintain a beautiful outdoor space. Enjoy complimentary delivery on all orders exceeding £400. Have questions or need guidance? Reach out to us on 01565 722766; we’re here to help!

Previous article How to Plant a Laurel Hedge
Next article Top 10 Evergreen Hedges for Privacy and Ornamental Purposes

More Blog Posts

Premium plants at affordable prices

Our plants are expertly grown and cared for, before being sold at excellent prices to retailers and the public.

Renowned within British horticulture

We are a trusted and respected nursery, with a reputation for producing top-quality plants.

Expertly grown and cared for

Our team of horticulturists care for our products to ensure happy, healthy plants which are ready for sale.

Specialist knowledge and support

We want our plants to live a long, healthy life so we’ll advise you about planting on purchase and share tips on our blog.


We supply to Garden Centres, Landscapers, Garden Designers offering exclusive discounts.