How often should you clip hedges?

By Andrew Collyer - Practical Gardening

Pterostyrax hispida
Pterostyrax hispida

Repeat sow lettuce, beetroot and carrots

Pterostyrax hispida - Epaulette tree

When I'm designing a garden for a client a hedge is often the number one priority when starting out. Many people look on hedges as a low maintenance screening option but still grumble at giving them a usually untimely hacking back once a year. However, for keen gardeners to get the very best looking hedge you are advised to get the clippers out a little more frequently.

The objective of trimming a hedge is to keep it in a strong structural shape with good growth from top to bottom and also to look attractive. Despite the timings I am giving here be aware of nesting birds and try not to disturb them if possible. The accepted nesting period is from March 1st until July 31st but just look out for birds disappering in and out of your hedge and have a quick follow up check to see if a nest is obvious.

Griselinia; Perhaps the most common hedge across the country. Ideally it should be trimmed firstly in Mid-May then again in late August.

Holly; Not seen much these days as new hedging as it tends to be slow growing hence only needs to be clipped once in August September

Escallonia; Unfortunately Escallonia has become riddled with a fungal disease over the last 10 years and regularly defoliates in the winter becoming an unsitely mess. Clipping can be done after its flowering period in July

Beech; Very popular in country gardens where evrgreen privacy is less important and a more natural look is required. Can be trimmed once in late July early August.

Hornbeam; Also a country hedge and often used instead of beech where the ground is Wetter. Can be treated the same a beech hedge.

Cherry laurel; Makes a big wide hedge and is still often planted and can be left as an informal screen in country gardens where space allows. Otherwise it is best pruned in late May and again in August.

Portuguese laurel; Taking over from the cherry laurel these days particularly in town garden where it is useful because it requires less space and provides a very dark green leaf which is popular. Prune the same as with the Cherry laurel.

Privet/ golden privet; A lot less fashionable than a few decades ago.To keep this hedge really sharp clip two or three times a year from May to September as the new growth determines.

Yew; The king of hedges but is notoriously slow so has lost favor in the instant world we live in. Vital to keep this hedge absolutely sharp and formal looking to get the best from it. Twice trim, once in June and again in September.

Thuja; Unlike most conifers it will regenerate reasonably well when cut back into old wood. Clip in May and again in late August.

Leylandii; Much maligned but as is said with dogs there is no such thing as a bad one just bad owners. This conifer makes a magnificant large hedge rivaling the yew in its denseness and formality. The problem is its speed of growth and a lack of management. This hedge needs clipping three to four times a year to keep it in the manner to which it is intended. Leave it for two years unattended and you have a problem.

Fuchsia; Treat as an informal hedge, that is to say not to clip it into a regular box shape. Aloow it to flower well into the winter when conditions are favourable and cut bach in early spring.

Hawthorn; A great counrtyside hedge. Allow to flower in May then trim and repeat in September.

Lonicera nitida; Once very popular as a town hedge never planted now for no good reason. Clip two or three times per growing season from April to September.

Although not boundary hedges lavender is frequently planted as and internal garden hedge and in Ireland in my opinion should be clipped by early September regardless of if it is still flowering or not. This will allow some new growthe to bulk up the plant for winter. Box hedges are also popular for internal garden hedges and to keep them looking at their formal best at least twice clipping in June and September is required.

Wexford People