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When is the Best Time to Trim Your Hedges? (Seasons, Timing & Technique)

Trimming Hedges
Image Credit By: RonPorter, pixabay

Hedges are terrific for improving the aesthetics of the front of your home or business. They can also be used to screen less appealing part of your property from view.

Do you know the difference between hedges and shrubs? The terms seem to be used interchangeably. A little research reveals that the difference is only in how the plants are used. When used a fence or boundary they are called hedges. Shrubs can be planted as single plants or in any type of eye-pleasing grouping.

When determining the best time to trim your hedges, you need to first determine the type of hedge that you have. Different types need to be trimmed during different seasons. If you bought your property with the hedges in place and you are not sure what they are, take a picture and then do a reverse image search on Google.

Once you know your type of hedge, you can use the following guidelines to determine the best time to trim them to keep them healthy and pleasing to look at.

Flowering Shrubs:

Fowering Shrubs
Image Credit By: Acabashi, Creative Commons

Flowering shrubs are divided into two categories: those that produce blooms on old wood and those that produce blooms on new wood. Those that produce on new wood do not produce flower buds until growth begins in the spring. Those that produce on old wood produce buds for the next year in the current year.

  • Prune in early spring for plants that flower on new wood. This allows them to recover in time to blossom on schedule.
  • Prune flowering shrubs immediately after they finish flowering. You should do this as quickly as possible so that they have enough time to produce the buds for next year’s bloom.
  • Hydrangeas are a very popular type of flowering shrub. Some types produce flowers on old wood and some on new wood. Make sure you know what type of hydrangea you have before choosing the right time to prove. As a rule of thumb, they need less trimming overall than other types of shrubs. They look their best when left as close to possible as their natural state. The exception for all plants is that dead limbs should be trimmed as soon as possible.

Evergreen Hedges:

Evergreen Hedge
Image Credit By: Patrick Roper, geographorguk

The best time to prune is right before their growing season. This normally means late winter to very early spring.  These hedges tend to be hardy so mid-summer trimming of overgrowth is not going to be detrimental to established hedges.

Formal hedges with clipped and shaped tops and sides will require more frequent pruning. Those that are more informal only require as-needed trimming to keep them looking tidy and not overtaking their space (such as blocking sunlight from windows).

What to know before you prune:

  • Whatever type of equipment you use to trim hedges, make sure you disinfect it with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water.
  • Disinfect the equipment before moving from one hedge to the next. This helps to protect your hedges from the spread of any type of disease.
  • Make sure whatever equipment you use is in good working order. Electric trimmers make the work easier and faster, but if you are using them for the first time, cautiously remove less than you think you need. It is easier to go back and trim more than to realize too late that you have cut too much.
  • Decide how much you need to prune before you start. This will allow you to give your hedges a uniform appearance.
  • Side pruning is sometimes necessary when hedges are becoming too dense. If you need to side prune, make sure you cut the branch you are removing as close to the junction with the main stalk as possible.
  • Use your pruning time to check plants for signs of disease. Diseases can affect any portion of the plant so check the roots, leaves, stems, and flowers. If the entire plant looks wilted this is a sign that the entire plant is unhealthy. Check for spots on the leaves or areas of discoloration. Many diseases can be easily cured if caught early so check your shrubs frequently.

Most plants that are used as hedges are hearty and vibrant and do not require a great deal of care. Relax and enjoy your yard without worry over damaging your hedges. They are rugged and will withstand a few mistakes along the way.

But, should you use compost or fertilizer in your garden? Click here to read our recommendations.

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