Home > Home Improvement, Lawn & Garden > How To Trim a Hedge - DIY Central

How To Trim a Hedge

Springtime means lawn work, dealing with the yard waste from the winter’s storms … and trimming your hedges. Hedge plants run the gamut from evergreens and deciduous plants to exotic grasses and flowering shrubs like hibiscus. They include beautiful species such as buxus green velvet, varieties of thuja, ilex soft touch, and the ubiquitous boxwood.

Hedge trimming can be a daunting task without the correct tools and instruction. You can use manual hedge clippers if you have a small privet hedge or lots of time or you can use electric or gas powered hedge trimmers. They do a good job on certain hedge plants and are fast but more expensive than the manual clippers. On the downside, electric or gas hedge trimmers can tear and break twigs and even jam up on some types of hedge materials. They also burn electricity or gas and that costs money. Manual trimmers cut closer than power trimmers and they are more precise. For a more professional look, choose manual hedge trimmers. Proper preparation is key to getting a professional looking job done.


  1. Install stakes and strings to form a grid over your hedge. The string will serve as a cutting guide.
  2. You can level the horizontal strings by using a small string level, available at most hardware stores or anywhere construction supplies are sold. You can also use a water level if you are familiar with how one works.
  3. Putting up the grid lines to guide your cuts is what takes the most time. Pruning the hedge is a simple matter of following your guidelines and trimming the material that sticks out past them.


  1. How you prune your hedge depends to a large degree on what kind of plant makes up your hedge.
  2. Evergreen plants require one pruning technique.
  3. Deciduous plants require a different technique, in many cases.
  4. Grasses and flowering shrubs need to be pruned in a different manner to keep from damaging them.


  1. Spend lots of time setting up your guide stakes and string. Patience and attention to detail here will pay off in the end.
  2. Do not try to cut too much in one pass. It is better to take smaller bites and focus on precise cuts.
  3. Avoid cutting the tough twigs and branches with your manual pruners. They will dull the cutting edge. Use a pruning saw or a different type of pruning sheers designed to cut woody branches.
  4. Prune your hedge in the preferred “inverted keystone” pattern. That is, prune your hedge wider at the base and narrower at the top. This allows sunlight to reach the bottom foliage and promote sturdy, healthy growth.
  5. A rounded or pointed top to your hedge is better than one cut straight across; it sheds rain and snow better.
  6. Regular pruning will keep your hedge looking great and growing healthy from year to year.
Be Sociable, Share!

Tags: , , , ,

Discuss this and other Home Improvement Topics in our How To Forum