How To Trim Hedges

Hedges, if properly trimmed and shaped, can stand as attractive ornaments even without the help of other ornamental plants such as orchids and the like.

But before we dive into caring for your hedges, some of you may be wondering “what the heck is a hedge?” Hedges are made when shrubs are planted in rows to resemble a wall or solid mass. They are similar to Japanese bonsai, except that bonsais have intricate designs and would require, of course, more trimming. Get the gist of it so far? If you remember how labyrinths or mazes made of plants in castle gardens look, then you’ll get the idea.

So now you’re all geared up to have a beautifully shaped hedge to accentuate your place. Here’s how to purchase, grow and trim hedges:

  • Good foundation. Buying the right plants is the first and most crucial step. You may be surprised that even where you live is a key factor in growing hedges successfully. Ask your local gardener for help in choosing which shrub would work best for you. This would also determine how often you should trim, as there are fast growing shrubs and there are one’s that only require trimming once a year. Choose plants that are about 1-2 feet in height and with many branches. This way you won’t have to wait too long for the branches to multiply. This may seem like a whole lot of fuss, but these minute details will actually have dramatic effect as your shrub grows to be a hedge. Don’t hesitate to ask for details or help.


  • Start 'em young. Like bonsai, shrubs meant to be hedges should be trimmed early so as to not have uneven growth and empty spaces in between.  This also makes them sturdy and able to hold their shape better.
  • Trim trim, trim. Your regular trimming shears are very effective, especially if your shrubs are still young and soft. Electric ones often destroy the branches. For bigger branches, you may need the help of a pruning saw. Remember how we suggested you ask around for details about your shrub? This is where that comes in. Rule of thumb: you should start trimming before it grows more than a foot. If you’ve been unable to trim them for a while, wait until spring comes. Then cut them a foot shorter than the length you want.
    • Trimming. Usually, you will only need to trim half of the new growth. But if you’ve just planted them, snip off 4-16 inches so your shrub now becomes 6 to 8 inches for low branching.
    • Shaping. After two years of rigorous trimming, you may now start shaping your shrub in its third year. Again, we go back to step one, the type of plant you have. Certain shrubs are better in keeping a particular shape than others. But the basic overall shape of your hedge should be natural, typically rounded or peaked at the crown, as this would ensure proper distribution of sunlight and will not accumulate too much snow during winter--which could break the branches.

The key here is to be knowledgeable about which plant you have, and you also have to consider replacing plants that are declining. Be patient in trimming and caring for your shrub and before you know it, you’ll have a beautifully shaped hedge before you. Happy gardening!


Share this article!

Follow us!

Find more helpful articles: