Hedge trimming will never be a problem for you again if you take the time to find out about the basic rules of hedge trimming. Then it doesn’t matter whether you have a rampant willow hedge to trim or a hesitantly developing boxwood hedge. You can refer to the general principles of how each hedge should be trimmed. Here is an overview, with general instructions and information on when to trim the hedge.

Hedge shape determines the frequency of pruning

  • Large shaped hedge serving as property boundary and privacy screen
  • small shaped hedge, for garden design and structuring
  • Free-growing hedge intended for lots of flowers and bird protection
  1. With the large shaped hedge, the hedge plants are shaped as the name suggests. It must therefore be trimmed regularly so that the desired shape is created and maintained. As a rule, the large shaped hedge should reach a considerable height, which has an influence on the cut. Most hedges must be trimmed so that when viewed from the front end they are in the form of a truncated cone. Only with this shape can the lower leaves of the hedge receive sufficient light. Some hedge plants also tolerate a box-shaped cut. Here, however, there is always the danger that the hedge in the lower area will eventually become bare.
  2. The small shaped hedge is a garden design element that unfolds its effect better the more precisely it is cut into shape. If you lose sight of such a hedge for a while, it quickly appears as if you have simply planted an unmotivated row of bushes in the garden. Therefore, this shaped hedge has to be trimmed very regularly, which English gardeners sometimes end up trimming with nail scissors.
  3. The free-growing hedge is a lot more comfortable to look after. It shouldn’t be trimmed all the time, but only when absolutely necessary. For this reason alone, this hedge shape has recently become more and more popular with garden owners. The second reason is that it makes the garden feel much more natural and really substantial, with growth that is free to develop and plenty of opportunities for bird nests.

Reasons for hedge trimming

Of course, the shaped hedges have to be trimmed so that they get the planned shape. Right from the start, you influence the growth form of the hedge plants through the cut, in terms of direction, length growth and branching. However, the shaped hedge also needs regular pruning in order to always look attractive. The effectiveness of these hedges depends on them developing evenly sized foliage. A cut hedge in which large, strong branches with stately leaves and thin young shoots with fine foliage alternate with each other would appear inharmonious to our eyes and therefore unkempt. Therefore, with these shaped hedges, an attempt is made not to let any shoots age. The cut always stimulates young shoots to develop. Another consequence of these pruning measures is that the entire hedge “remains young longer”. Young shoots flower more eagerly than older ones. Old shoots eventually become lignified, are attacked by diseases/pests or eventually stop vegetative growth and become bare.

However, the next reason for hedge trimming affects the free-growing hedge plants in equal measure: hedges are also trimmed to keep the hedge plants healthy. In addition to over-aged parts of the wood, branches that are visibly affected by diseases or pests and branches that have dried out due to an interruption in the supply must also be removed. In addition, you have to take care of the inner structure of the hedge. Most hedges should have a permeable structure on the inside. Only then are they sufficiently aerated so that moisture dries away and does not degenerate into rot. And only then do the inner parts of the plant get enough light so that they do not become ill and are then often occupied by invaders.

The optimal time

In the case of hedge plants, a distinction is made between early bloomers and late bloomers. This distinction directly affects the timing of editing, among a few other considerations.

early bloomers

The early bloomers are already opening their flowers when it is still far too cold outside for lengthy work such as trimming the hedge. The decisive argument for the fact that the early bloomers are usually only pruned after flowering is the fact that these spring bloomers usually took the first precautions in the last season so that flowers can form in the current season. So they flower on old wood, on last year’s shoots, on two-year-old wood. If you know thatMost early-flowering shrubs begin to bud in September/October for flowering in February/March, so you also know that you should only prune these hedges after they have flowered. In this way, you avoid cutting off the “flowering splendor in development” when trimming the hedge.

This means that determining the time of the cut is no longer difficult. Prune the early bloomers as soon as the last bloom has withered. But please do so as soon as the last flower has withered, otherwise your early bloomers will start budding on the old shoots for the next season – and you don’t want that. You want him to grow a few new shoots first and then put the new flowers on them.

late bloomers

The hedges, which only blossom in summer and autumn , do not bloom so late without reason. They develop the flowers (sometimes really exclusively) on the shoots that they have produced from the beginning of spring. Therefore, they are pruned when the growing season is just beginning. They can even be pruned quite vigorously, the more new shoots (and the more flowers) they will develop.

The summer and fall bloomers are pruned in early spring, just before the hedge plant begins to sprout. Then the plant has already woken up from hibernation. You can tell by the eyes starting to swell on the old shoots. Depending on the weather and the hedge plant, this is the case in our climate between the beginning and middle of March. If it is still very cold at this time, you would have to be careful to only do the pruning when the weather is frost-free and preferably sunny. In the days around the cut, the temperature should not drop below minus 5 degrees. This cutting time also has the advantage that you do not disturb the birds when they are breeding (which would not be allowed), and that the hedge only looks freshly cut for a few days.

Note: You may have heard more often that hedges should be trimmed in winter before they sprout – this has now been abandoned because a plant that has already started the vegetation period has much better abilities to close the cut wounds, as a hibernating plant.

Weather conditions when trimming the hedge

If you are struggling with the weather staying too cold all spring, it is better to leave the hedge untrimmed than risk frost damage. You can then make up for the hedge trimming in the summer. You may then have to do without flowering in the current season, or it will be sparser because it forms on the old wood. After flowering, trim the hedge into shape. Then, as usual, give your hedge the inspiration for the next summer/autumn bloom next spring.

exceptions to the rule

Some hedges are so prolific that you will not get by with a cut. The only way to keep these trees in shape and in check is to use scissors twice a year. Depending on the flowering time and the beginning of the blossoms on the wood of the previous season or on the wood of the current season, the second cut must then be made in such a way that the development of the flowers is not disturbed.

If there is no other way, you can of course trim your hedge at any other time of the year. With reckless radical pruning, you should only make sure that the hedge is in the growing season, otherwise the many cuts could “kill” it. Otherwise not much can actually happen, only the flowering could fail.

In the vegetation period, a cut is always not permitted according to nature conservation laws if you would disturb birds when breeding. Breeding season is between March and September. So if you’re planning to hack into the dense and opaque jasmine hedge with a power hedge trimmer in the middle of July, it’s best to forget about it. In the breeding season, you can only trim a hedge that is still so young and completely transparent that you can see from a distance that no bird has settled in it yet.

Other cutting measures depend on the purpose

What has just been presented was the regular maintenance cut of a hedge, in the vast majority of cases the most important cut. However, there are some other pruning measures that serve different purposes:

  • plant cutting
    • ensures at the roots and crown that freshly planted plants have to take care of just as many parts of the plant below ground as above the ground
    • this balance is important for thriving
  • education cut
    • Special case of maintenance pruning for the young plant
    • here the later form is only gradually determined
  • topiary
    • is simply referred to as the maintenance cut for normal hedge plants
    • it is also a shape cut if you model a Mickey Mouse head out of a boxwood
  • pruning
    • gets every plant that has decided to overgrow
  • fruit trees
    • are motivated by yield pruning to approach a rich harvest
    • if this is so rich that branches threaten to break off, a relief cut will help
  • special flower pruning motivates some trees to a particularly rich flowering
  • Corrective pruning when a plant is out of the ordinary
  • Rejuvenation pruning for a hedge that has not been pruned at all for years
  • care cut
    • prevents diseases
    • if it’s too late, a recovery cut is due
  • Propagation pruning is the pruning for cuttings or cuttings, from which new hedges are then created

Hedge trimming safety

When trimming a hedge, it helps your safety if the ladder you use is firmly planted on the ground. You should also take your time and never work in a hurry with a hedge trimmer – in case of doubt, either the fingertip is gone or at least an ugly hole in the hedge. Of course, wearing the right work gloves made of cut-resistant material can also help against losing your fingertips.

Hedge trimming is no secret once you have understood the basic rules. You will then no longer need any special instructions for most hedge plants. However, there are exceptions, such as the vigorous wisteria, which has to be pruned at least twice, and various shrubs, which tend to bleed, here you should find out more about the individual plant.

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