How to Trim Bushes and Hedges

By: albertaarb - November 6, 2013

Do you know how to trim bushes and hedges? In general, hedges and bushes are pruned to keep them neat and healthy. A formal hedge can soon grow out of control if it is not trimmed regularly and informal hedges can become overgrown if they are not pruned in spring and winter. Why trim bushes? Shrubs should be pruned to keep them healthy and shapely and there are many useful tips for pruning shrubs and trimming hedges.

Useful Bush Pruning Tips

  • Learn how to identify the bushes and shrubs in your garden
  • Use a sharp pair of pruners to cut away damaged, diseased or dead growth
  • Snip a few inches off the tips of the bush branches -- this will encourage the foliage to grow
  • Cut your shrubs back to give them shape
  • Prune the bush to control its overall size
  • Locate the "branch collar" and prune just beyond the joint
  • Remember that a large shrub should never be trimmed to form a small bush

Useful Tools for Trimming Hedges and Bushes

If you are trimming a hedge or pruning a shrub you should use the right tools. Buy good quality pruning tools and they will last longer. Use a pruning saw to cut through the large tough branches. A pair of loppers will be strong enough to cut back the smaller branches and the remainder can be trimmed away using a pair of hand held pruners. Hand held hedge shears are the ideal tool for trimming smaller hedges. However, gardeners who have to trim large hedges may prefer to use electric hedge trimmers.

Hedge Trimming Techniques

Place a cane at each end of the hedge -- Tie a length of strong twine to the canes and use the string as a "cutting guideline"
The hedging shears should be used to trim away the overgrown leaves. Do not dig the shears into the greenery. Lay the blades on the surface of the hedge and gently snip away at the overgrowth. The freshly trimmed hedge should look level and flat.
If you are using an electric hedge trimmer you should keep the blade in line with the hedge. Lay the cutting blade at the bottom of the hedge and take it upwards in a sweeping motion. When cutting the top of the hedge lay the saw blade flat on top and let the blade glide along the surface.

How Often Should Hedges and Bushes Be Pruned?

Shrubs, trees and bushes that are early-bloomers should be pruned during late spring. Ideally they should be trimmed when they have stopped flowering. Trees and bushes that flower during the summer months can be pruned in the winter or during the early spring months. Bushes and shrubs that bear no flowers benefit from winter pruning. Formal or clipped hedges should have their first trim early in the growing season and their last cut before the frosts set in. Deciduous trees should be pruned in winter and evergreens can be pruned in spring. Everyone should learn how to trim hedges and bushes because well-maintained shrubs help to create an attractive garden.   

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