Why & How To Properly Trim A Hedge?

The hedge is a natural and elegant plant separation, provided that it is well maintained. Trimming a hedge so that it is well supplied, dense or even compact to preserve your privacy or simply to look nice, requires some knowledge. Rest assured, nothing is beyond your reach or that of your hedge trimmer, if you have chosen it carefully according to your space and your vegetation. Discover our expert advice on how to use a hedge trimmer and our tips on how to perfectly trim your hedge. First of all, we present you an excellent hedge trimmer that is very easy to use.

Why & How To Properly Trim A Hedge?

Why prune your hedge?

Pruning a hedge ensures its vigor and good health. If you wish to have a dense and regular hedge, you must prune it regularly and at the right time. It will be a question of limiting the growth of your bushes and shrubs in height and width so that they remain orderly and adopt the shape of your desires. Hedges are often located near fences or close to the neighborhood or the road. It is advisable to trim your hedge regularly so as not to disturb the neighborhood or damage your fence.

How to trim a hedge in a simple way?

To contain the desire of your hedges to escape, you will have to use a hedge trimmer, whether electric or thermal. But you don’t have to trim your green spaces at any time! Nor in any way. You will also need to follow a few safety guidelines, as this is a dangerous device to use if you don’t. Even though the safety protocols of today’s manufacturers allow for greater freedom of movement, reducing the risks significantly.

Whether your hedges are large or small, with thin or thick branches, I offer you some simple advice to help you achieve the desired result, without effort and without unnecessary handling.

Let’s start with some basic principles, always good to know or remember. To be efficient, you must not go against nature and its laws. That’s why you don’t prune when you want to, nor in an untimely way. When you start the work, it is good to finish it in the same day, at worst the next day. It is advisable to maintain a balance and regularity so that your vegetation feels good and takes the rhythm of growth that you impose to it.

Besides, I don’t have strict rules like other professionals for the pruning itself. Over the years, I have learned a few simple, often logical, tricks that will allow you to work faster and more efficiently. Just know that cutting without reference points, by eye as we say, is complicated to hope to obtain a straight cedar hedge for example. This is why I recommend the use of ropes and stakes as reference points to help you progress.

You thought there were no real rules for cutting your hedges? It’s customary to start at the top of your hedge and work your way down the sides. This is the time to get out what you use as a guide to cut straight, flat or pointed according to your desires and possibilities. Whether you have an electric or a thermal hedge trimmer, the cutting movements are the same, in an arc, from the bottom to the top and not the other way around, so that the cut branches are not held back in any way from falling to the ground. I give you some hints in my buying guide to help you determine which type of hedge trimmer is best for you.

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Also, remember to hold the hedge trimmer close enough to you so that you don’t put all the weight of the trimmer on your arms. Electric hedge trimmers are really good at this, with some weighing less than 3 kilos! Another important point if you want the same density of vegetation from the bottom to the top, trim the base of your hedge a little less short. This gives light to the whole hedge in a uniform way and avoids holes in the vegetation, especially at the base.

You will have to cut either vertically or horizontally, here are some cutting techniques:

Vertical cutting: for the sides of your hedges, it is necessary to describe arcs of circle from bottom to top and to use both sides of the blade of your hedge trimmer;
Horizontal cutting: for the top of your hedges and the tops, you will need to cut from the middle towards the edges to allow the cut branches to fall to the ground. The angle of the blade is important and is recommended between 0 and 10° for efficient progress.
Trimming a hedge at ground level is pretty easy once you know the right tips, like I just gave you. But what about high hedges, our dear cedars and cypresses that like to stretch skyward and exceed two meters in height? You always have the solution of the stepladder, or a double ladder, but between us, it is rather dangerous and requires a clever mix of balance and dexterity.
Today, there is an accessory that I can’t do without: the telescopic pole or handle. This accessory allows you to add an extra meter of height, making it easier to cut high hedges. Orientable and practical, you will be able to trim your hedges from the ground, in complete safety.

I propose you a video realized by a famous brand of do-it-yourself which summarizes rather well what I have just advised you on the cutting of a hedge

When to prune a hedge?

Depending on the gardener, the vegetation, the weather throughout the year, you may be satisfied with an annual pruning. But you will probably spend a lot of time on it and discover how Nature does what it wants. So, I prefer to prune two or three times a year, so that I can relax when the time comes and get dense hedges faster. At what time of year should you prune? Spring and summer are perfect seasons for this. More specifically, April-May and August-September are the times of year when your vegetation is finishing growing.

A small exception is made for conifers, for example, which it is wise to prune in June-July, or even in winter if you want to prune them twice a year. Simply because these are not periods of rising sap. This way, the healing process is faster and you spare the blade of your hedge trimmer from sap deposits, which must be cleaned to preserve the blade (with methylated spirits).

For flower beds, simply wait until the end of the flowering period to trim.

How to maintain your hedge trimmer?

Knowing how and when to trim is great, but what about when your hedge trimmer is stored in the garage after the trimming season is over? Most gardeners treat this tool in an ordinary way, much like pruning shears that you put away after use, without worrying about it again until the next time you use it. But you shouldn’t be surprised to find that the blade degrades over time or even breaks down. That’s why regular cleaning and maintenance of your hedge trimmer is so important! Here are some tips on how to take care of your hedge trimmer, whether it is electric or thermal.

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Why & How To Properly Trim A Hedge?

Take care of the blade by cleaning it

It’s the blade that allows you to trim your hedges cleanly and does most of the work, so it’s normal to worry about it after each use. I recommend cleaning it after use with methylated spirits to remove any traces of sap and insects. This also prevents the blade from oxidizing over time.

Check, tighten and grease your hedge trimmer

Gardening equipment is very sensitive to vibration and prolonged use, such as hedge trimmers. This is especially true of thermal hedge trimmers, which are more temperamental and are more suitable for do-it-yourselfers. It is therefore a good idea to check the screws before each use and tighten them if necessary. In particular, the blade should always be securely fastened to the rest of the unit. Make sure there is no play between the two parts of the blade, as this can be dangerous.

In addition to methylated spirits, you should also regularly grease the blade with oil. There are special cans available, but cooking oil can also do the trick. Greasing the blade helps keep it waterproof and reduces the chance of it seizing up and damaging the motor by forcing the mechanism. When storing your hedge trimmer for the winter or between cutting periods, be sure to do so by protecting the blade in a protective sheath. This is often included with your purchase.

Sharpen your hedge trimmer to avoid losing efficiency

The last important point regarding the maintenance of your hedge trimmer is the sharpening of the blade. It is clear that a dull blade will not do justice to your hedges, nor to the device itself by seeing its performance decrease with each use. Already, if you maintain the blade with methylated spirits and oil, you’ll find that it helps keep it sharp as in the early days. But depending on how much you use it, you will one day have to sharpen the blade and the teeth.

In general, I prefer to leave this work to professionals, for a reasonable fee. But if you prefer to do it yourself, there are special small grinders and sharpeners available in stores. The problem is that it’s not as simple as trimming your pruning shears. You will have to dismantle the two blades that make up your hedge trimmer and this is not always a simple manipulation, without risks. And to reassemble it, it is even more complicated and dangerous, because at the slightest malfunction linked to a bad assembly on your part, problems are guaranteed! So, if you are not sure of what you are doing, call on the services of professionals.

Our safety tips for trimming your hedge
When you handle a hedge trimmer, you must take care to protect yourself and any people close to you. Children and animals should not be in the way when you are trimming your hedges, it’s for their own good and yours! They can be exposed to branches or get their feet caught in the electric wire, cause accidents while you are on the stepladder… To stay focused, keep them at a distance!

Equip yourself to protect your body and face from plant debris or a branch that could reach your eyes. You can wear goggles, work gloves (thick), work shoes and long clothes to protect your skin. The larger your hedges, the more protective equipment you will need. At the very least, don’t trim your hedges shirtless or in flip-flops! Use common sense, among other things. And as for the weather, if it rains, postpone your work day, because hedge trimmers don’t like water.

Finally, when using your hedge trimmer, make sure you read all the safety precautions included with the unit. Understanding what you have in your hands and how to use it is the best way to avoid an accident.

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Now you’re ready to choose your hedge trimmer for your yard!


How to prune a laurel hedge that is too large?

Pruning should be done once a year, especially in the fall, if you don’t want the laurel to be too large and invade your property.

If your bay hedge is in good condition, then you can prune it very severely. It will grow back fairly quickly.

How do you trim a laurel hedge? What are the specificities?

The laurel is a very sensitive plant to temperature. That’s why its pruning is different because it is done according to the type of plantation, in pot or in the ground.

To cut a laurel hedge, use a hand pruner and put on gloves. Because the laurel is a very toxic plant. Start by removing the stems of the plant that have become too cumbersome by cutting them off at the base. This will limit the height of the branches and give the laurel its initial shape.

For the record, this pruning is not done every year but rather every third or second year.
And the tool to be used must be well sharpened to create a clean and neat cut.

How to prune a cedar hedge ? What are the specificities ?

For this type of plant, you can use either a shear or a hedge trimmer. The work will be easy to do because cedar branches are thin at the leaves.

Wear gloves to pick up the leaves and it is advisable to use a tarp to collect the detritus or remains and then bury them in bags to be emptied at the waste disposal center.

For pruning, start at the bottom and work your way up to the same area, staying parallel to the hedge. Proceed in this way all along the hedge.
Ideally, prune your cedar hedges in early spring or late summer.

How much does it cost to trim a hedge?

The price for trimming a hedge ranges from 35 to 45 euros per hour if you call a professional. Per linear meter, the price is generally between 5 and 15 euros for the pruning of the hedge.
Of course, these prices vary according to the height and length of the hedges.

Overall, this amount can be up to 500 euros. This seems a bit expensive. It is therefore best to invest in a hedge trimmer that will give you the desired result if you carefully follow the instructions for use.

The hedge trimmer is the ideal tool for pruning and cutting work in the garden. It has the advantage of being able to adapt to different types of plants, ranging from taller hedges to lower ones, to less bushy and denser ones. For many, it is the best tool for maintaining hedges and shrubs.
The use of this equipment may be easy, but it is highly recommended to be careful not to injure yourself. So take the right steps before using it to better protect yourself.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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