Pruning hedge plants – avoid these most common mistakes


Pruning plants, shrubs, trees or hedges always raises many questions, which is understandable because almost every species has its own preferences, methods and best pruning periods. While one can use a pruning in the summer, the other hardly blooms if it is not clipped in the spring. In this blog we would like to take you through the do’s and don’ts when it comes to pruning hedge plants.

For starters, there are almost no “rulings” when it comes to pruning hedge plants because there are so many different varieties. But most hedge plants should be pruned between May and September. Do you prune the hedge twice a year; then plan the first pruning for the longest day of the year (June 21).

Choose the right day
Whatever variety you have, choose the right day for pruning. A cloudy day after a (heavy) rain shower is preferable. The branches are supple through the rain, resulting in a clean cut. When you prune in full sun, there is a good chance that the pruning ends can burn. Also, never prune when there is frost in the air, branches are too hard and cannot recover from the pruning.

Choose the right time
Hedge plants can be roughly divided into three categories. The kind that can be pruned in spring, summer or autumn.
Spring is a perfect time to prune. After the winter rest period, most plants have a growth spurt, so it is a good time to ‘tune it up’ and it can easily recover from a pruning due to all the energy. Hedge plants that flower after June are generally pruned in the spring. Plan the pruning in early spring but do not prune until night frost has passed. Pruning too late can give the plant too little time to develop buds; and therefore cannot bloom. Laurel, boxwood, photinia, hydrangea, beech hedge and buddlejas are examples of hedge plants that are best pruned in spring.

In summer there are two types of pruning; trimming fast growers and pruning spring bloomers. Fast-growing conifers can use some maintenance in the summer. This is to keep the hedge nice and in check, these are not rigorous pruning sessions. In addition, hedge plants that have flowered in early spring are pruned after flowering. These are for example; the dogwood and the blackthorn. Do not wait too long, because pruning too late can prevent flowering the following year.

In the autumn there is hardly any pruning because the plant goes into rest and has little ‘left’ to recover from the pruning. Autumn is only an extremely suitable time for sun-sensitive hedge plants. For example; the field maple or the hornbeam autumn is an excellent time for pruning.

Use the right material
We can’t say it often enough, but when pruning, choose the right material. For the recovery and preservation of the hedge plants, it is important that the cuts that are made are clean and straight. Split ends can cause fungal infections and dieback that can spread from a small twig to the base. Also adjust the tool to which part of the plant is being pruned. Thin branches can be done with the pruning shears, thicker branches with the pruning shears and the really big work can be done with the pruning saw. Large areas can be tackled with the manual or mechanical hedge trimmer. The following applies to every tool; make sure it is clean and sharp.