When Is The Best Time To Cut Your Hedge? (And Why)

Written By James
Updated July 26, 2021 by James

When Is The Best Time To Cut Your Hedge? (And Why)

When Should I Trim My Hedges?

If you want to keep your hedge healthy and happy, then you need to ensure you are hedge trimming your plant when needed, not only does this keep it lovely and neat but also can help it grow. 

Most of the time, it is best to do hedge pruning during the summer once or twice a year, but some hedge types benefit from pruning during late winter too. You can always remove dead branches any time of the year however and different types of pruning might be needed depending on the age of your hedge. 

To help you figure out when you need to be pruning your hedge we have put together a guide below that will explain why you should be pruning your hedge, the benefits of doing so, when to trim different types of hedges and the different types of pruning you should be doing. 

Let's get into it! 

Why Should I Cut My Hedges? 

Trimming your fastest-growing hedge is very important to maintain the overall health of your green fence, when done at the correct time, it can spur growth in your hedge sizes, help prevent diseases and overall allow you to have a lovely hedge. 

We have listed out some further benefits to maintaining your hedge regularly below and avoiding overgrown hedges. 

  • It keeps your hedge healthy - Firstly, cutting your hedge when needed allows the denser hedge to have more access to sunlight, better air and more water. This makes the fast-growing hedges condition stronger and more durable against diseases. 
  • Helps it grow - Trimming back damaged branches, brown leaves and foilage in summer can help keep your hedge bushy and promote growth quickly.
  • Keeps it tidy - Cutting your hedge allows you to make hedge forms and complex hedge shapes, keeping your green growth neat. By maintaining your hedge you also prevent it from overgrowing which is harder to cut once let go, especially in breeds with tough leaves such as a Laurel hedge.
  • Makes it thicker - If you trim your informal hedges with a wedge shape this can help the hedge to grow thicker and give a more dense appearance, this makes it a perfect hedge for privacy after initial hedge shaping.

When You Should Not Cut Your Hedges 

Although you should cut your hedges once/twice a year or as needed, there are also times that you should not be cutting your hedges, we will list a few of these times below.

  • Birds in hedges - It is illegal to trim your hedges if they have nesting birds inside, you should always check your hedges beforehand just in case, the main nesting birds season tends to be between March and the end of July. 
  • Overgrown Evergreen hedges - Some evergreen hedges such a Jupiters when overgrown are better to be replaced rather than pruned, this is because they cannot grow from having bare branches.

Different Types Of Pruning For Your Hedges 

Before you decide on the right time to cut your hedges, you should consider that the time you cut your hedge does not only depend on its type but also its age. 

There are two main types of pruning for your hedge, one is formative pruning and the other is maintenance trimming for more mature hedges.

Formative Pruning 

Formative pruning is best for a newly planted hedge, this cutting should be done during the winter to make the shape and direction of your new hedge. You do not need to cut your hedge too often at this stage as it can do more harm than good while your plant is growing, this should be done during the 5-year stage of your hedge.

Maintenance Trimming 

Maintenace trimming comes after formative pruning once your hedge has taken direction and shape. This cutting should be done once or three times per summer depending on your hedge and you should never trim more than 25% of your hedge back. 

When To Cut Different Types Of Hedges 

Now you know the different types of trimming you should do according to your hedges age and why it is good to cut your hedge, we have listed the common types of hedges out below and when they need to be cut according to their type below. 

Privet Hedge

Privet hedges are one of the best fastest-growing hedge types for privacy on the market, they need cutting between May and August around twice a year for maintenance of foliage in summer. 

During winter you should carry out pruning times to take off dead odd branch tips.

Laurel Hedge

Laurel hedges are one of the most popular hedges on the market and this type of hedge, in particular, comes with very tough leaves so needs to be well maintained. You should cut your Laurel hedge during the summer months of July or August once a year and cut more off to reshape it in spring if yours has overgrown. 

Holly Hedge

Once a year you should cut your holly hedge, if you want to re-shape it also cut back very hard during the springtime.

Hawthorn Hedge

As Hawthorn hedges have flower branches they should be trimmed once or twice a year, this should be after the flowers in spring around June and autumn for a formal hedge. If you want to make your Hawthorn hedge informal then leave the hedge with berries and trim only every couple of years. 

Beech Hedges 

Beech/Hornbeam hedges grow very fast and should be cut minimally around once a year during August and winter, avoid bare patches on the hedge during the colder months as this can kill the hedge. 

Leyland Cypress Hedges 

Leyland Cypress hedges have a lot of leggy growth and should be trimmed around three times a year little by little to keep them in the best shape possible. April, July and August are the best times to cut this type of hedge.

Yew Hedges 

A Yew hedge should be trimmed once a year in August or September months.

Frequently Asked Questions About When To Cut Hedges

What is rejuvenation pruning? 

Rejuvenation pruning essentially means cutting your shrub completely down to the ground, this is done with shrubs that have lost their shape over time and need to 'reset' for them to grow desirably again.

When do I cut a deciduous hedge? 

You can trim deciduous hedge types during summer when side shoots start to appear or extra growth.

What is the difference between formal and informal hedges?

Formal hedges are trimmed very tightly and are normally a type of hedge without flowers, informal hedges are left to grow out with flowering for a couple of years.

How do I keep privacy hedges thick? 

To keep privacy hedges thick you can cut them in a wedge shape which forces the bush to grow thicker, you should also avoid taking too much off them when trimming during the late summer.

Can I trim a hedge during winter?

You can trim some hedges during winter however types such as Beech hedge, for example, should not be touched during winter, as when they develop bare patches during these colder months it makes them very vulnerable.

Final Words 

Overall to round up our guide of when to cut your hedges, most types of hedges are best to be trimmed during late summer and pruned right-back during spring for rejuvenation pruning if needed.

You should determine the exact time to prune your hedge according to the type of hedge you have and how old it is, some hedges work better to be trimmed in late summer while others in winter. 

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My father, and his father before him, and his father; for the past 3 generations, my family have always been into gardening. The green fingers is a gift passed down to me and I thoroughly enjoy it! I also have worked in the manufacturing department for Bosch and DeWalt so I like to think I know a thing or two about tools and such!
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