Pruning an evergreen hedge

How to prune an evergreen hedge

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

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Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
To do
To do

Do not To do in January

Do not To do in February

Do not To do in March

Do not To do in April

Do To do in May

Do To do in June

Do To do in July

Do To do in August

Do To do in September

Do not To do in October

Do not To do in November

Do not To do in December

Evergreen plants like box 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.

Find out how to plant a hedge.

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.

Most evergreen hedging plants are vigorous shrubs and trees, which can be pruned at least twice a year.

You Will Need

  • Tall bamboo canes
  • Garden string
  • Hedge shears

Total time:

Step 1

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.


Step 2

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.


Step 3

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.


Step 4

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.


Step 5

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.



Berberis thunbergii f. purpurea

Other plants to prune like this