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Can you Trim a Hedge Too Much?

Can you Trim a Hedge Too Much?

. 3 min read

Trimming hedges can be a tranquil and relaxing task. One that we enjoy in warmer weather and that keeps out hedges healthy and strong. However, it is possible for you to trim your hedge too much, and when this happens you run the risk of killing your hedge or causing permanent damage.

As this is the case, how do you cut your hedge, and if there is such a thing as too much how much you are supposed to cut back? It can feel a little daunting, but the good news is that it’s not nearly as difficult as it looks. Here’s all the how's and whys so that you can get your hedge looking incredible without the stress.

When to Trim Your Hedges

For the first couple of years after planting, hedges need what is known as formative pruning. This takes place in the winter and early spring. After this, maintenance trimming remains rather informal and is only carried out once a year to keep the plant healthy. However, if you plan to trim hedges that are more formal in nature, you may need to prune them three times a year.

Why There are Certain Trimming Times

We’re All About Pets explain that typically, birds have their nesting season between March and August', during which time you should not be trimming hedges. This is because it can disturb the nesting birds and cause them to abandon their nests and their young.

It is actually a criminal offence to destroy the nest of any bird that is currently using it, and this can be found under the 1981 Wildlife Act. When you cut the hedge, make sure it is completely clear. Better yet, cut it outside of the designated nesting season just to be safe.

How to Trim Your Hedge without Killing it

First, make sure that the hedge trimmer you choose is excellent quality. You want it to be able to cut through thick and thin branches alike to get an even cut and ensure that nothing gets snagged or damaged in the process.

Trimming Techniques

You will definitely need a hedge trimmer for larger spaces, but a handheld pair of shears are perfect for smaller areas that need finer detail. There are some incredible garden trends involving hedges you may want to recreate.

Formal hedges are very easy to maintain, and they simply need to be cut in a symmetrical manner. This can be done by keeping the shears parallel to the line of the hedge.

When you cut the top of the hedge, you can even use a template made from wood or cardboard to guide your shears and the way in which you cut. Similarly, tying a taut rope between two canes can assist you with creating striking straight edges.

Cutting back an informal hedge is a lot like pruning a standard one. It allows for new growth and helps your garden stay aesthetically pleasing. Make sure you remove misplaced shoots and plants, but if you have evergreen hedges it is vital that you avoid leaf damage so that they can gather enough nutrients.

Be careful when undertaking a hard pruning as this can cause the hedge to die as you will cut back to the old wood and the hedge will be unable to recover. Similarly, cutting only on one side can leave it unbalanced and heavy, which can cause it to come out of the ground.

Only ever go with cutting one third of the good wood back when pruning as it encourages new growth and keeps the plant healthy. It’s all about allowing the hedge to heal and ensuring that your hedge is still able to obtain all of its necessary nutrients.

To Conclude

Growing season is just around the corner, and a good pruning is just what you need if you want flowering hedges that bring your garden to life for years to come. Your shrubs and plants are an essential part of the ecosystem, encouraging wildlife to make their home there and pollinating your flowers.

Just be careful that you don’t cut it back further than needed and that you ensure it can continue healthy growth. Within the year, you will find your garden looks better than ever.


Part of the expertEasy team in Melbourne. Mark is a keen gardener, a DIY addict and a father of two beautiful girls. He is originally from Perth and is a true Eagles fan.