When to prune hedges
Timing of pruning should take into account the potential for nesting birds (see 'Problems' section below). However in general, these are the optimum timings for pruning hedges:
- Formative pruning: In winter, just after planting, and for the first two years after planting
- Maintenance pruning: Each summer
- Formative pruning: In the spring after planting and for the first two years after planting
Maintenance pruning: Each summer
For advice on pruning techniques, see hedges: trimming.
When undertaking work on garden hedges check that there are no birds nesting, as it is an offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 to damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built. The bird nesting season is usually considered to run from 1st March to 31st July (though it may last longer for certain species or multiple broods so always check if in doubt).
With conifer hedges, make sure you do not trim them after August, as this can encourage bare patches to develop in the hedge.