How to prune evergreen hedges

Find out how to get your evergreen hedges in shape for summer, in this practical guide to pruning.

Do it:

May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep

Takes just:

one hour

Evergreen plants like boxChoisya ternata and privet are often grown as hedging plants for their ability to cope with close trimming to create a dense stable mass of woody stems covered in foliage. 

Most evergreen hedging plants are vigorous shrubs and trees, which can be pruned at least twice a year, though more frequent cutting will create a denser hedge. By trimming in late spring and early summer, the young soft growth is targeted, which us easy to cut using shears or a powered hedgetrimmer. You could also cut later in summer, though this will result in a looser hedge which needs a more time-consuming cut with secateurs. 

Discover how to prune evergreen hedges, for perfect edges in five steps, below.

You will need

Tall bamboo canes

Garden string

Hedge shears

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Before you start, set up guidelines on hedges such as this griselina, to keep sides and top level. Tall bamboo canes and string are the easiest way to improvise. Push canes into the ground along the length of the hedge, checking they're in line, before typing the string along the top. Aim to cut back to the base of the new growth and avoid chopping too far into old wood.
Start clipping the top of the hedge, using shears to cut through the soft new growth. Regularly refer to the string for level and aim to keep the top flat across the width of the hedge, too.
Cut the sides next, clipping soft shoots back to their base. Try to create a slope, with the top narrower than the base. This will help light get to the base and stop the hedge becoming top-heavy.
Most evergreen hedging plants are vigorous shrubs and trees, which can be pruned at least twice a year.
Finish by clipping the ends of the hedge. These are often very visible, so take care to keep them at right-angles to the top and sides of the hedge.
Take time to remove all loose clippings from the hedge as they'll look unsightly when they turn brown and can harbour disease. Shred clippings and add them to the compost heap.

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Other plants to prune like this


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Five shrubs to prune in summer

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