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Hedges require formative pruning on planting, plus maintenance trimming to keep them within bounds. Pruning times vary depending on the type of hedge.
Different hedges are best trimmed at different times of year. Credit: RHS/Advisory
Timing of pruning should take into account the potential for nesting birds (see 'Problems' section below). However in general, these are the optimum timings for pruning hedges:
For advice on pruning techniques, see hedges: trimming.
Buxus sempervirens (box): Twice or three times during growing seasonIlex aquifolium (holly): Once in late summerLigustrum (privet): Twice or three times during growing seasonLonicera nitida: Twice or three times in growing seasonPrunus laurocerasus: Prune twice during growing season
Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (Lawson cypress): Twice, in spring and summer× Cuprocyparis leylandii (Leyland cypress): Twice or three times in growing seasonTaxus baccata (yew): Twice, in summer and autumnThuja plicata: In spring and again in early autumn
Carpinus betulus (hornbeam): Once, in mid- to late summerCrataegus monogyna (hawthorn): Twice, in summer and autumnFagus sylvatica (beech): Once, in late summer
Berberis darwinii: Immediately after floweringCotoneaster lacteus: After fruitingEscallonia: Immediately after floweringLavandula (lavender): Immediately after floweringPyracantha: Late summer
Berberis thunbergii: Immediately after floweringForsythia: After flowering, remove some older stemsFuchsia magellanica: In spring, remove old stemsRosa rugosa: In spring, remove thin twigs
When undertaking work on garden hedges check that there are no birds nesting, as it is an offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 to damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built. The bird nesting season is usually considered to run from March to August.
With conifer hedges, trimming after August can encourage bare patches so cut earlier in the season but only after checking for nesting birds.
Beech hedgingHedges: selectionHedges: plantingHedges: trimmingHedges: renovationHedges: nuisance and overgrownLeyland cypress: pruning
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