Pruning, trimming, and shaping hedges in your yard can be a much bigger and more meticulous job than people realize. Not only is it a time-consuming, physical task, but a rushed or poorly planned pruning project may seriously damage your hedges.

Typically built from many shrubs planted tightly in a row, hedges are used to frame and border a yard. They can be a great natural way to provide privacy, block the wind, cut back on noise, and beautify an outdoor space. They are typically evergreen bushes (meaning they don’t drop leaves/needles in the winter), so they stay looking good year-round and aren’t too messy or require much maintenance. Popular hedge types include Laurel, Golden Leylandi, Arborvitae, Emerald Cedar, and Viburnum.  

The best time to prune hedges is late winter to early spring. February, March, and May are great months to prune in Oregon. You want to trim when plants are dormant and not producing buds. It’s not good to trim hedges and trees that are actively growing. Hedges grow very actively in the summer, and cutting too early and aggressively could lead to browning leaves and tree limbs dying. No one wants a spotty hedge. Avoid the temptation to prune your hedge now, because you could do serious damage.

When you do trim your hedges, there are a few things to keep in mind that may help you be more successful:

  • Use a hedge trimmer. If you were planning to prune your hedge with shears and pruners, you may be in trouble. This could work for smaller hedges, but in most cases, you will want to use a more powerful tool. The fastest and most efficient way is to use hedge trimmers. Look for one with extended reach, especially if your hedge is taller than you are. It will save you a ton of time (instead of clambering around on a ladder) and make it easier for you to step back and look at your process to ensure the hedge is even.
  • Be safe. When you are operating high-powered equipment like a saw or hedge trimmer, there is a certain amount of risk. Be careful to wear gloves, eye protection, and earmuffs. Also, keep the hedge trimmer far away from your body and grip it firmly, so that if you do hit a particularly troublesome branch that causes it to bounce back, you will be well away.
  • Trim aggressively. If you are going to take the time to trim and shape your whole hedge, do yourself a favor and push the leaves and needles back. If you barely trim the hedge, it will grow back immediately and you will have to do it again. You want a good amount of light to penetrate through to the inside of the bush so that it grows on the inside too. By hacking the foliage back, the hedge may not look great for a little while, but it will bounce back quickly and start to look good in a few weeks.

If you don’t feel confident trimming your trees and hedges, consider hiring a professional. At Green Acres Landscape, we make sure not to over-trim or create dangerous cuts that could damage the trees long term. We take great pride in maintaining straight, well-manicured hedges.

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