9 Tips for Trimming Hedges Properly


A crucial part of the American dream is having a neatly manicured lawn and professionally trimmed greenery outside your home. Trimming your own hedges doesn’t have to be difficult, and it’s easy to do yourself if you follow some basic guidelines. Here are 9 tips to help you get the most out of your lawn.

1. Time your Trimming Appropriately

In order to encourage your hedges to grow back optimally after trimming, it’s important to time your maintenance accordingly. When you trim depends on the plant so do a little research before you start hacking away. Generally if you follow these simple rules you’ll be good to go:

  • For plants that flower in spring time, trim after they have finished blooming
  • For plants that flower in summer time, trim in the tail end of winter or in early spring
  • For non-flowering plants, trim after any new growth looks to be fully formed, which varies for most plants.

Light trimming throughout the year using hand shears is acceptable and in many cases recommended, but you just don’t want to do any major shaping. Use hand shears for this and be sparing.

2. Speed up Clean-up

Here at ShedHeads, we’re all about working smart, not hard. Before you get started, an awesome way to eliminate your clean up time is to lay down a tarp or two around your trimming subject. As the hacked off branches and leaves fall they will settle on top of the tarp. When you’ve finished the job you can just fold up the tarp collecting all of the waste you’ve generated!

3. Start with Hand Shears

Now that you’re ready to get to trimming your shrubs and hand shearsbushes, the best way to start is with hand shears. Take a look at your blank canvas (overgrown plant) and first picture the shape you want to produce. Remember to always try and leave the base of your plant a little wider than the top.

4. Remove Overgrown Outer Branches

Start by thinning out any thicker areas on the outside of the plant, cutting close to the main stems. Cutting near the top of the branches will just encourage new growth near the top, but cutting the branch near the base of the stem it is attached to will promote growth all the way along the branch.

5. Thin Out the Interior

Next, go a little deeper into the plant and start by removing any dead or broken branches. Continue to thin out the interior to promote airflow and reduce any chance of mold or other pathogenic growth. Don’t get carried away here, you never want to remove more than 1/3 of the plant’s growth in order to not harm it.

6. Use the Best Cordless Hedge Trimmer

To get into any major shaping, you’ll want to use a cordless hedge trimmer. Cordless trimmers these days still have the power of electric and gas models without the annoying cord or gassy fumes. If you need to pick a new one you can check out these reviews to help you decide.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic potion to make you good at shaping your hedges with a trimmer. It can be intimidating, but besides a steady hand and patience, doing this well is just going to take some practice. It won’t be perfect your first time, but try and just learn from your mistakes. We do have a few tips that will help you out though.

7. Use Straight Lines as Guidance

Look around you for straight lines to guide you when cutting your hedges with the trimmer. The siding on your house, street signs, your neighbour’s hedges… whatever it may be. Having something to guide you will keep your hand steady and eye on point. Again, this will take some practice so don’t feel too bad if it doesn’t look too good the first time.

8. Using Strings For Guides

Another great way to get nice straight and clean edges on your hedges is to use strings. Stick four stakes intostring guide the ground at the four corners of your target shrub, slightly outside. Run string from one stake to another using a level to make sure the strings are nicely levelled. Then, use your trimmer with the strings as guide. Just don’t cut the strings by accident because then you’re really out of luck.

9. Be Patient & Practice

We mentioned this already, but trimming hedges is something that takes practice to get good at. This is just one of the reasons there is an entire industry for landscaping. It really is hard to do! But the more you do it, the better you will get. Just be patient and you’ll get better.