Tips and What to Consider When Pruning Hedges

December 1, 2020

Whether you have a Boxwood Shrub, a Forsythia, or a Privet Hedge, these plants can provide a home with beautiful green foliage, oftentimes flowers, as well as privacy or a border between two yards. When kept nice and trim, hedges are an excellent addition to many landscapes. However, like all plants, their branches grow and the leaves can overpower the aesthetic of the shrub.

Hedge pruning is just as necessary as tree trimming, but in many cases needs to be done more frequently in order to maintain a clean and kempt look. But pruning hedges can be fairly intimidating if you have never done it before.

At Apex Tree Experts, we have years of experience working in the Tacoma area helping our clients achieve beautifully trimmed hedges. If you want to avoid the worry of over-pruning or don’t have time to take on a day of pruning, rely on us for professional service. Whatever type of hedge you have in your yard or whatever look you’re trying to achieve, we can make it happen. However, if you want to give hedge pruning a go, here are some quick tips to ensure it’s done safely and efficiently.

When to Prune

One of the most important steps of pruning is to do it during the right time of year, as well as the right time of day. For most hedges, a heavier trimming should be done in the late fall or winter, while light trimming or simple maintenance cuts can be made year-round. This will avoid potentially damaging the health of the hedge, which could happen if branches with new growth are trimmed during the spring or summer.

Be mindful of the time of day you’re trimming as well. Full sunlight in the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are the strongest could scorch the tips of the branches that were just cut. If you need to cut in the middle of the day, try to wait for a day when there is some cloud cover.

What Kind of Hedge is It?

The main thing you want to consider is if it’s a flowering shrub or not. If you have a shrub like a Forsythia, you’ll want to trim back branches in late winter or early spring. This is because there may be some early blooms that have grown on the previous season’s branches. Trimming flowering hedges early will encourage it to produce even more flowers in the spring.

You’ll also want to consider the natural look of the shrub. Shrubs like Boxwood or Junipers have dense branches and can be trimmed to create very clean lines, while shrubs like Lilac or Spirea are looser flowering shrubs and are usually pruned to keep a very organic look. If you over prune a flowering shrub it could end up looking empty and could hurt the health of the plant.

Tips on Pruning Hedges

Lay out a Tarp and Plan Ahead

Unless you want to spend another half hour after the pruning is complete to clean up the area, laying down a tarp is a great way to make the process easier and faster. All you’ll need to do is pick up the tarp and dump the trimmings in the trash.

After the tarp is laid down, step back and look at the hedge to determine how much needs to be trimmed and how tall or wide you want the hedge to be. Planning ahead, and making sure to step back and look at your work multiple times throughout the pruning process, will ensure that the hedge isn’t over pruned or that one end of the hedge is cut back farther than the other. When the process is complete, you should have a uniform look around the entire hedge.

Consider the Tools

There are several tools that you could use to prune hedges, including gas-powered, corded electric, battery-powered, extended reach trimmers, and standard hand clippers. For taller hedges that you can’t easily reach the top, you may want to consider using a trimmer with an extended reach or using a step ladder. Electric or battery-powered trimmers allow for faster pruning and can help give the hedge a quick once-over; however, there is a greater risk of going too fast and pruning back too far or pruning unevenly. In many cases, especially if you’re new to pruning hedges, a hand trimmer works the best and gives you the most control over the branches you’re cutting.

Keep it Narrower at the Top

A hedge that is slightly more narrow at the top will ensure that sunlight and air can reach the inner branches to encourage growth. Although Tacoma doesn’t get a lot of snow, if you live in an area that sees frequent snowstorms, a narrow top can prevent snow from accumulating on the top of the shrub and slide off instead.

Take it Slow

When it comes to actually pruning the hedge, remember to go slowly and look at your work as you go. Depending on how much growth needs to be trimmed, you may want to give the hedge a quick once-over with an electric trimmer, just make sure that you don’t cut too close to the base of the branches. Then, using a hand trimmer, go back over the hedge to give it a closer cut at the height and width that you had planned for.

Choose Apex Tree Experts For Professional Hedge Pruning

Apex Tree Experts is committed to providing our clients with exceptional service and beautifully trimmed hedges. If you’re not sure how to prune or don’t want to risk damaging the plant, get in touch with our team today!