How to Prune Hedges Back


Properly clipped hedges provide privacy for your home and a neat, attractive face to street traffic. Hedges need regular maintenance to look nice; without this, they become scraggly and detract from your home's beauty. Prune hedges in the spring when frost danger passes for your area, then do upkeep through the spring and summer. The most important part of hedge trimming is shaping; the straight lines often used to trim hedges are a poor method of hedge care and should be avoided.

Step 1

Trim the top of the hedge to a slightly rounded form, using hedge clippers. The Arizona Master Gardener Manual recommends a rounded top over a flat top, because snow falls off a round top more easily; snow on a flat top can compress and break hedge branches. Use a ladder to reach the top of the hedge, if necessary.

Step 2

Trim the face of the hedge using hedge clippers. Working from the top down, create a slanted shape so that the bottom of the hedge protrudes farther than the top. A flat face means that low branches receive shade, not sun, and will bear weak and patchy growth. A slanted face allows all parts of the hedge to get sun and to thrive.

Step 3

Maintain the shape of your hedge with regular pruning. While evergreen hedges need less care and you can prune them once a year--because they are slow growers--you'll need to prune deciduous shrubs several times during the growing season.

Step 4

Prune away broken or dead branches from your hedge whenever you notice them. Use lopping shears to cut out large branches.

Things You'll Need

  • Hedge clippers
  • Lopping shears
  • Ladder


  • Arizona Master Gardening Manual: Pruning Hedges
Keywords: hedge trimming, hedge pruning, clipping hedges back

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.