When to Trim Hedges
New hedges require formative pruning for their first couple of years after planting. Formative pruning is usually carried out in winter or spring.
After this, maintenance trimming is carried out, usually once a year for informal hedges and twice a year for formal hedges. Some formal hedges may need three cuts a year. Maintenance trimming is generally carried out between spring and summer.
Hand-held hedge shears are fine for smaller hedges, but for large hedges you’ll probably find it easier to use an electric or petrol hedge trimmer. No matter what you use always make sure the equipment is sharp and well lubricated.
Always think of your safety when using a powered hedge trimmer. Wear safety goggles and sturdy gloves. Before starting, remove any obstacles on the ground. Avoid using powered tools above shoulder height and use sturdy step ladders or platforms, ensuring they are stable. Electric hedge trimmers are ideally used with a residual current device (RCD) and should not be used in damp conditions. Place the cable over your shoulder to prevent it being accidentally cut. See our advice in electricity in the garden for more safety tips.
There is no need for the width of even vigorous hedges to exceed 60cm (2ft) if they are regularly trimmed. Formal hedges should be slightly tapered on both sides so that the base is wider than the top and light can reach the bottom of the hedge. This is known as cutting the hedge to a batter.