Gardening Tool Site

How to Trim Bushes with Hedge Trimmer

Hedge trimmers are handy gardening tools for trimming shrubs and bushes and keeping them tidy. However, if you have bought your first hedge trimmer or are thinking of purchasing one, you must know how to Trim Bushes with Hedge Trimmer properly. There are also specific ways to trim and prune bushes with a trimmer to ensure the best results.

trim bushes

Do you want to have a lush hedge with dense foliage that is the envy of your neighbors? Are you fed up with not getting that precise manicured look of a beautiful boxwood or laurel hedge? Or do you just want to make maintaining shrubs and bushes more enjoyable?

This article is a complete guide to trimming bushes with an electric hedge trimmer. You will find step-by-step instructions on how to get the best out of your new hedge trimmer. In addition, you will find the answers to many questions about trimming hedges with power tools.

Understand the Basics Before Trimming Hedges

It’s vital to remember basic safety practices before using any type of trimmer to cut back bushes, shrubs, and hedges. Electric hedge trimmers have sharp blades that move back and forward very fast. The best trimmers can cut branches up to 3/4 of an inch thick — about the same thickness as your finger.

Here are some safety tips to ensure you can trim bushes in your garden safely:

  • Always wear protective safety gear to protect eyes, ears, hands, and feet.
  • It’s best to wear heavy-duty clothing and avoid having exposed skin.
  • When using an electric trimmer, ensure the extension cable is safely attached.
  • If you trim tall hedges or bushes, use a pole hedge trimmer. However, if you decide to use step ladders, never overstretch to minimize the risk of falling.
  • Keep trimmer blades well-lubricated and always clean tools after using them.

When Is the Best Time To Trim Bushes with Hedge Trimmer

Spring is the ideal time to trim hedges and bushes with a trimmer. For spring-blooming bushes and hedges, prune them after they finish blooming. However, if bushes bloom in summer or fall, it’s best to prune them in late winter or early spring. This is when there is new growth, but before buds appear.

When is the best time to trim evergreen shrubs like boxwood? Trim evergreen hedge plants in early summer after new growth has appeared. This will make it easier to shape hedges — depending on if you want a formal hedge or informal hedge.

Step-By-Step Guide for Trimming Garden Shrubs

Usually, trimming bushes and hedges in the garden requires various pruning tools. In addition to using a power hedge trimmer, you should have pruning shears, a lopper, and a small curved pruning saw.

Here are some handy tips on pruning bushes and hedges to keep your garden looking neat and tidy.

Steps for pruning bushes

Pruning bushes requires removing dead, damaged, or diseased stems that can affect the plant’s growth. Pruning also encourages new growth and result in healthier shrubs. The best time to prune bushes is between late fall and early spring — during the dormant period.

When pruning bushes, you should use pruning shears and a lopper. A power trimmer will only remove outer foliage. The goal of pruning is to thin out the shrub by removing branches. Here are some steps for pruning bushes:

  • Check the bush for any growth you don’t want.
  • Always cut at a 45-degree angle just above a bud or leaf node.
  • Identify inner branches that you can remove and cut back to just above the new growth.
  • Remove any suckers from the base of the bush.
  • Cut back any branches that seem out of place or thin out parts of the bush that seem to have thicker growth.

Steps to Trimming a Hedge

Using a powered hedge trimmer is the easiest and fastest way to trim a hedge. Regular trimming and pruning can help create a natural privacy screen for your front or backyard. In addition, creative trimming can also add visual interest to complement your landscape design.

Here are the steps you need when trimming a hedge with an electric or cordless hedge trimmer:

  • Lay a tarp underneath the hedge to make cleaning up easier.
  • Set up two stakes with a taut nylon line between them to use as a height measurement and ensure straight lines.
  • Use the electric shears to trim along the top of the hedge, ensuring to keep the trimmer level and the top of the hedge flat.
  • Next, trim the hedge sides. The goal is to make certain that the bottom of the hedge is wider than the top.
  • Working from the bottom and at a steady pace, use a sweeping action to shear off a few inches of foliage.
  • Keep your eye on the shape of the hedge as you cut.

Once you finish trimming the hedge, take a step back and view the overall shape of the entire hedge. If necessary, prune any branches that appear out of place.

How to maintain and care for your hedge so that it looks neat and tidy

Trim Bushes with Hedge Trimmer

The best way to maintain a living fence is to cut it back regularly. Trimming your hedge is easy with a hedge trimmer. Typically, the best time to trim hedges to encourage healthy growth is in the dormant season — from late fall until early spring before spring growth appears.

Trimming frequency also depends on the type of hedge plant.

One of the best tips for maintaining a healthy hedge is to keep it narrower at the top. A natural privacy screen will naturally grow wider and denser at the top, where it gets the most sunlight. However, keeping the hedge narrower at the top is vital to allow enough sunlight to penetrate the base of the hedge shrubs.

FAQ’s — How to Trim Bushes with Hedge Trimmer

Here are answers to common questions homeowners ask about using a hedge trimmer in the yard.

How far back can I trim my hedges?

Hedge trimming requires making several shallow passes to shear off a couple of inches of foliage at a time. If you take off too much, you risk having a hedge that looks out of shape. As a rule, don’t cut back more than one-third of the plant’s volume.

How do you trim overgrown bushes with hedge trimmers?

You can use any type of hedge trimmer to cut overgrown bushes. However, the long blade of a standard trimmer can make bush trimming challenging. Typically, hard pruning overgrown bushes with pruning shears is best to revitalize growth. For some overgrown shrubs, you can prune back to the ground in early winter.

Can you use a hedge trimmer to cut bushes?

Hedge trimmers have a sharp blade with a cutting action that goes back and forth. This makes the garden power tool ideal for cutting small twigs and trimming bushes. However, it’s vital to pay attention to the end of the trimmer when cutting smaller bushes as the sharp cutting blades could risk injuring someone.

When should you not cut hedges?

The wrong time to trim bushes with a hedge trimmer is early to late fall. In temperate climates, fall is typically damp and cold, and fungi spores are abundant in the air. Therefore, cutting and pruning a hedge in the fall can put your beautiful garden shrubs at risk of infection.

The fall is the wrong time to prune or trim most plants because it encourages growth. And the new stems and leaves won’t have time to get established before winter arrives.

Ideally, late winter and early spring are the best times to cut back an overgrown hedge. Summer is best for lightly trimming a hedgerow to maintain its shape and height.

Additionally, you should check hedges in early spring for wildlife if you plan to trim the hedge. If there is a nest or signs of nesting activity, you should hold off cutting the hedge until the chicks have flown the nest.

How do I prune an overgrown bush?

Rejuvenating an overgrown bush requires large amounts of pruning with shears, a lopper, and a pruning saw. First, cut away the thickest, oldest stems close to the soil level. If you must prune heavy branches, make a cut about 30cm below where the final cut will be to avoid tearing the branch.

The next step is to do some hard annual pruning in the winter. You should remove the oldest wood by up to one-third and remove any crossing branches. Then, you can cut back the remaining wood by half after flowering.

How do you cut hedges evenly?

Taking your time and using large sweeping motions is the best way to ensure an even cut when trimming hedges. When using an electric trimmer, periodically stop, take a step back, and assess your cutting angles.

For larger hedges, you should create a guide by hammering two poles into the ground at either end of your hedge. Then tie twine between the stakes and pull it taut. Use the line as a guide to get the top of your formal hedge perfectly level.

In addition, when cutting the side of hedges, always start from the bottom up.

How do you trim tall hedges?

The safest way to trim a tall hedge is to use an extended-reach hedge trimmer. This handy piece of equipment has an adjustable shaft and a swivel head, allowing you to cut hedges between 8 and 12 feet tall. The swivel head adjusts up to a 90-degree angle, meaning you can also cut the tops of tall hedges.

How can I make my hedge thicker?

The three ways to develop a thicker hedge are correct trimming, annual pruning, and trimming at the right time. First, ensure the hedge top is narrower than the base. Next, prune terminal buds in late winter or early spring to prevent leggy growth. Then, lightly trim the hedge in summer to keep its shape.