Hedge pruning: how and when to cut your hedge

How and when to cut your hedge

Both evergreen and deciduous hedges need to be pruned regularly to keep them healthy and maintain their shape. In this article we will differentiate and explain two types of hedge pruning: maintenance pruning and renewal pruning.

Hedge maintenance pruning

The purpose of maintenance pruning is to give or maintain the shape of the hedge. It consists of pruning the new shoots of the hedge, so that it maintains the desired height and width.

Deciduous hedges usually need two prunings a year, while evergreen hedges need only one. The first maintenance pruning should be carried out when the hedge shoots are mature (between April and May). If a second pruning is necessary, the best period to carry it out is from the beginning of September to mid-October.

Hedge renewal pruning

This consists of cutting back 2/3 of the hedge’s fruit-bearing shoots. The purpose of this pruning is to reduce the number of shoots and to give more strength to those that remain. It is a way of cleaning up the hedge, so that it grows stronger and healthier.

Renewal pruning should be carried out once a year and in winter, during the hedge’s dormant season. Choose days when it is not freezing or very cold and preferably when the hedge is dry.

For some species of woody hedges, during the first year of their existence, it is advisable to carry out a more intensive renewal pruning, cutting 3 quarters of the shoots. The aim of this more intensive pruning is to make the hedge’s ramifications stronger. This type of pruning should be carried out in March at the latest.

Hedge pruning techniques: vertical and horizontal pruning

How should the hedge be trimmed with shears?

To prune a hedge with shears, the hedge must be cut from the bottom upwards. Ideally, the hedge should be pruned in a rectangular shape, but the upper part of the hedge should be slightly narrower than the lower part, so that the upper part does not shade the lower part, thus ensuring that light reaches the hedge as a whole.

The hedge should be pruned both horizontally (this cut will mark the height of the hedge) and vertically (the width of the hedge).

Vertical pruning

As mentioned above, the hedge should be cut from the bottom upwards in circles. In this way, the hedge can be given the desired depth or width.

Horizontal pruning

This consists of marking the desired height of the hedge, in these cases it is usually very practical to use a rope to mark this height. Once the height has been defined, you can start to cut the hedge using the shears, giving the cut an angle of up to 10º with respect to the horizontal of the hedge.

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When to prune hedges according to their species

There are many different hedge species. Below we show the most common ones and indicate the period and frequency of pruning for each of them.

Evergreen hedges

Box hedge:
Should be pruned about 2 or 3 times during the growing season.

One pruning at the end of summer.

Privet hedge:
Should be cut back 2 or 3 times during the growing season.

2 or 3 times also during the growing season.

Cherry laurel or Laurocerasus:
2 prunings during the growing season


Lawson cypress:
2 prunings, one in spring and one in summer.

Leyland cypress:
Should be cut 2 or 3 cuts during the growing season.

2 prunings one summer and one in autumn

Giant Yew or Red Cedar:
2 times a year, once in spring and once in early autumn.

Deciduous hedges

Hornbeam or Birch:
Once in mid to late summer

To be cut 2 times a year, once in summer and once in autumn

Common beech:
One pruning at the end of summer


When holding the scissors, it is advisable to hold them as close to the body as possible, as this will make you less tired. The weight of the shears is also a factor to be taken into account: shears with carbon fibre handles are very light and strong, making them much easier to handle.


A tool in good condition and the right size for the thickness of the hedge branches is essential to avoid damaging the plants.

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