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Pruning a box hedge with shears

Tips for pruning evergreen hedges

Published: Thursday, 12 September, 2019 at 4:31 pm

Discover our tips for pruning evergreen hedges such as privet, box and conifers.

It's important to prune an evergreen hedge, such as privet, yew (Taxus baccata), box, Lonicera nitida and conifers in the summer months to keep them looking good and to promote dense growth.

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Read our tips on pruning deciduous hedges.

Different types of evergreen hedge have slightly different requirements - follow our advice on pruning evergreen hedges, below.

When to prune

The best time to prune evergreen hedges to keep them looking neat is between June and September.

Pruning a box hedge with shears

How often to prune

Most evergreen hedges need pruning twice during the season. Vigorous plants, such as privet and conifers, can be pruned up to four times a year while slower growers like holly need pruning just once, in late summer.

Pruning variegated holly

Pruning shape

The base of a hedge needs to be wider than the top. This restricts the dominant top growth, which would otherwise shade out the bottom and cause it to become bare.

Pruning a griselinia hedge to be slightly wider nearer the base

Tips for box

To avoid box blight – a fungal disease that can kill box plants – never trim box in wet weather or any later than August, when the spores are more prevalent. While you are pruning, look out for damage caused by the box tree caterpillar, which can ruin plants. Examine the plant carefully for the green and black caterpillars and their tell-tale droppings, webbing and dieback. Take action promptly.

Trimming a low box hedge with shears

Tips for conifers

Take care to only trim conifers lightly, never cutting back into old, leafless stems - they can't produce fresh foliage, so you'll end up with bare patches. Yew is an exception. Most conifers produce vigorous upright growth; for young hedges, trim out the tops to encourage side branches low down. Never trim later than August so plants can recover before winter arrives. You can use the trimmings as cuttings.

Tips for large-leaved hedges

Prune large-leaved hedges such as laurel, holly, griselinia (pictured) and elaeagnus during July and August, as by then they'll have started to look unruly. A trim once a year should creating a good finish.

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Pruning griselinia in summer

Tips for privet

Privet grows fast and will grow very large if left to its own devices. To keep it in check, trim several times between May and September.

Pruning privet with electric hedgecutters
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