Do it now or later? The best time to trim your garden hedge

December 8, 2014

Any hedge goes wild if left untended. When's the best time to trim your garden hedge: Now, in spring, as you've read? Or later, in fall, as your neighbour says?

Do it now or later? The best time to trim your garden hedge

Depending on the hedge

Actually, both answers are correct. In fact, depending on the type of hedge you have, you can actually trim it two or more times each year!

Manicured, semi-formal orinformal hedge?

So when is the best time to trim your garden hedge? The first trim usually takes place in late June; the second before the end of August. In fact, it really depends on the variety of shrubs you own and the results you want to achieve:

  • Manicured: A manicured hedge is carefully trimmed to maintain a crisp perimeter (ranging from short to very tall) outlining the yard or parts of the property, such as around the pool, lawn, garden or playground.
  • Semi-formal: Semi-formal hedges are mainly planted to protect from wind, rather than the prying eyes of neighbours. Generally, they're allowed to grow to their maximum height. Only the width of the plant is trimmed.
  • Informal: Informal hedges are made up of several different shrubs and require little maintenance. In this case, trim misplaced shoots and limit its expansion if it becomes invasive.

Thorny, leafy or flowering?

  • Fast-growing (cypress) or thorny (boxwood) hedges: This type of hedge requires more frequent maintenance, up to two or three times per year. They should be trimmed between May and September.
  • Low-level deciduous hedge (beech, hornbeam): Do not prune until late August.
  • Flowering hedge (hibiscus): Always prune after flowering, and never before.

8 rules to follow carefully

  1. Always stick to the same pruning time. If you decide to prune your hedge at the end of June, do it every year at the end of June. Also, never skip a year of hedge trimming maintenance.
  2. If you have a cedar hedge, never cut the wood. Only trim the new shoots, otherwise you'll damage the plant.
  3. Make the hedge wider at the bottom to maximize sunlight exposure. Trimming it too straight will create bare spots at the bottom.
  4. Trim your hedges the year after you planted it. You need to give it a basic shape to help it grow in the right direction.
  5. Avoid cutting the top off your hedge before it reaches the desired height.
  6. The sunny side of a hedge may grow much faster than the shady side. Adjust the shape accordingly.
  7. Check with your local municipality for regulations. Some types of hedges have been banned because they are considered invasive.
  8. Keep in mind that maximum allowable heights vary from one region to another.
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