How to tame your hedge

Regular trimming of hedges keeps them growing well and provides a wildlife-friendly boundary to your garden.
 

Time required
Approx 1 hour, depending on hedge size
Level of expertise needed
Beginner
How to tame your hedge

Equipment


  • Shears or powered hedge trimmer
  • Secateurs
  • Rake or brush
  • Goggles and ear defenders (optional)
  • Sturdy boots and gloves
  • Canes and string
  • Residual current device (RCD) for electric trimmer

Top tip!

Watch out for birds' nests. The main nesting season is early March to end of July, but it can go on for longer, so take care. It is an offence to damage wild birds' nests.

1
Step 1
Step 1

A line held firmly between two canes can act as a cutting guide before trimming.

2
Step 2
Step 2

Aim to lightly trim the new growth to keep the hedge in shape. This can be done with shears or a hedge trimmer.

3
Step 3
Step 3

If using a power trimmer, check the sides are being cut evenly - look along the hedge as you work, stepping back to see the overall shape.

4
Step 4
Step 4

Keep your blades flat, so you don’t dig into the hedge. If using power trimmers cut in arcs from the bottom up

5
Step 5
Step 5

Try and cut your hedge to a 'batter' keeping the bottom of it slightly wider than the top. This allows light to reach all the sides.

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Step 6
Step 6

Formal evergreen hedges such as box and yew are usually trimmed May – September, several times if crisp lines are required.

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Step 7
Step 7

Rake up or collect cuttings (here a hornbeam), then add them to your compost heap. If you have lots of clippings, try to mix them with other compostable materials.

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Step 8
Step 8

Apply a 5cm (2”) layer of mulch such as bark chips around the base of the plants, leaving a mulch-free collar around the stems. This will keep the roots moist and help prevent weed growth.

9
Step 9
Step 9

Sit back and admire the crisp lines of your hedge, one of the best backdrops to a lovely flower border.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.