Hedge trimming: Our top tips

Summer is well and truly on the way; BBQs, garden parties and sunbathing await, which means your hedges need to be on their best behaviour for guests! Along with the usual tasks like weeding and planting flowers in pots and beds, hedging can make a huge difference to your garden. Read on to find out our top hedge trimming tips.

When is the best time for hedge trimming?

New hedges require some formative pruning during their first couple of years after planting. Formative pruning (to help them gain their form) is usually done during the winter or early spring. 

After this, trimming is carried out to maintain the hedge, usually once a year for informal hedges or twice a year for formal hedges. Maintenance trimming is usually done between late spring and the end of summer. 

You should bear in mind though, nesting season is considered to run from March to August, so delay any trimming or pruning if you think there is any nesting activity going on. 

What’s the difference between formal and informal hedges? 

The key difference between a formal and an informal hedge is how tightly it is clipped. A formal hedge is usually very tightly clipped and kept very neat. An informal hedge is allowed to have a more natural shape and may only be clipped every year or two to maintain the overall size. 

Hedge trimming tips for formal hedges 

Follow these tips to ensure an even, symmetrical hedge on any formal hedge:

  • Cutting straight, crisp edges and lines by eye can be difficult. Use a taut horizontal string tied between two stout canes to act as a guide to cut the top of the hedge level. Canes or stakes pushed into the ground helps with vertical lines. 
  • To shape the top of the hedge (to an arch for example) cut a template out of cardboard or plywood. Place the template on the hedge and cut using the template as a guide.
  • When using shears, ensure that the top of the hedge is cut level and flat by keeping the blades of the shears parallel to the line of the hedge. 
  • When using a hedge trimmer, keep the blade parallel to the hedge and use a wide, sweeping action working from the bottom of the hedge upwards, so the cut pieces of foliage fall away. 

Hedge trimming tips for informal hedges

Pruning an informal hedge is much like pruning normal shrubs. In general, remove misplaced shoots and cut back the hedge to your preferred size and look. Use secateurs or loppers where practical, especially if the hedge has large evergreen leaves, to avoid leaf damage that looks unsightly. Remember to prune informal hedges after they have flowered, so you don’t hinder any future growth. 

What hedge trimming equipment do I need? 

From maintenance pruning to more radical shape changes, you’re going to need different tools to get the job done. We recommend getting the following hedge trimming equipment for the best results:

Secateurs: also known as pruning shears, secateurs are essentially scissors you use in the garden. They are ideal for cutting small bits off your hedges and bushes to smarten them up. Secateurs are perfect for branches up to 2cm thick.

Loppers: loppers are essentially long-handled secateurs, but capable of tackling thicker branches. The longer the handles, the less effort you have to put in yourself. Use loppers for any branches up to around 5cm in diameter.

Curved saw: for thicker branches, use a saw with a curved blade. For best results, do long, slow strokes – making use of the whole blade. Even the thickest branches won’t stand a chance.

Shears: think of your shears as a bigger version of scissors, ideal for cutting back overgrown hedges.

Hedge trimmers: unlike the other tools, hedge trimmers are machines, designed to make trimming easy. Their steel blades are powered by electricity, petrol or battery, and are perfect for tidying up your largest hedges and bushes.

Do you need help with your hedge trimming? 

Here at Rosewood Garden Maintenance, we offer a range of garden maintenance services to customers in Surrey and surrounding areas. Do you have hedges that you just can’t keep under control? Perhaps your entire garden could use some TLC. Get in touch with our team by calling 07393 821797 or emailing us at [email protected]