When To Cut A Hedge

When To Cut A Hedge

The question of when to cut a hedge – or trim or prune it – is an important one. By pruning your hedge at the best time possible, you will fill your garden with bushy, healthy, vibrant hedges that add style to your outside space.

The best time to cut a hedge will differ depending on the time of plant you have, for example, the best time to cut a beech hedge is in the late Summer, ideally in August, whereas you can cut common laurel hedges back at anytime, although best to avoid the coldest months to avoid frost damage.

You should also avoid trimming your hedge during bird nesting season so as not to disturb the wildlife.

As the UK’s leading hedging specialist, we are sharing our expertise and top tips with you on the best time to cut hedges back for growth and maintenance, and also highlighting when you should trim specific types of hedges back.

When to prune hedges for growth

There are two main reasons to trim a hedge: growth and maintenance.

Have you just received your new hedge plants and are wondering if they need some extra attention other than planting? Immediately after planting, most hedging plants do not need pruning but you will need to spend time cutting them back to ensure they grow beautifully over the coming years.

Cutting garden hedges for the purpose of growth is known as formative pruning. You should carry out formative pruning for the first 2-3 years after planting your hedge, in early Spring. You can also do it in the Winter, as long as there is no frost. If you want to make these hedges dense and bushy from the get-go, you can cut them back by between a third and half their height. 

However, as with everything, there are some exceptions to this rule, such as:

  • Quickthorn (Hawthorn) – Should be trimmed anytime from late Autumn to early Spring during
  • Blackthorn – Can be trimmed anytime from late Summer to early Spring, before the new nesting season starts.
  • Bare root privet – For a relaxed look you can trim just once a year after flowering but to keep a formal neat looking hedge, trim once each season. Please go to our Privet Hedging section for more information!

If you have any questions about when to prune hedges for growth, get in touch with us today and a member of our friendly team will be able to help.

When to trim hedges for maintenance

Once your hedge has been established, you may want to trim your hedge each year to keep your garden looking neat and tidy.

This is known as maintenance trimming and is usually done once a year (or twice a year if you have formal hedging). The best time to trim hedges for maintenance is between the Spring and Summer.

When you trim your hedge, you need to consider its shape, even with the simplest rectangle of a hedge. When trimming the hedge, we would always recommend tapering the sides a little so that its base is slightly wider than the top. This way, daylight will always reach the lower parts of the hedge; you’ll keep the growth dense and bushy all the way up and avoid unsightly gaps at the base.

Cutting Specific Garden Hedges

When it comes to cutting garden hedges, every type has different requirements, including the time of year you should cut your hedge. You can find recommended timings for trimming of all our hedges on their individual pages, but we’re going to explain upright hedges, deciduous hedges and evergreen hedges now. 

When is the best time to cut upright hedges back?

There are countless varieties of upright hedges, from the stunning Escallonia to the beautiful Buxus. Each of them has its own requirements when it comes to trimming, for example, you should prune Buxus in Spring, but maintenance trim it twice a year in June and September.

Escallonia hedges will need to be pruned for growth during the Winter, and then trimmed for maintenance in May and August.

Best time to trim deciduous hedges

On your recently-planted deciduous hedge, there may be an initial wayward or damaged stem that warrants a light clip immediately. However, in the years following, shorten the annual growth slightly to ensure a denser hedge.

As a rule, deciduous hedges can be trimmed in mid to late Summer. However, there are of course exceptions to this rule, such as Hazel hedging which should be trimmed in late-Winter to mid-Spring.

When should you cut back evergreen hedges?

Evergreens are a bit different; they won’t need trimming until the second year onwards when the sides can be lightly clipped to your required or desired shape. Once you know how tall you want your hedge to be, give its first cut just below the intended final height to make sure it fills out. Evergreen hedges are best cut in early Spring or early Autumn, although you will find exceptions, such as Laurel hedging which is best trimmed in July or August.