How to Trim an Evergreen Hedge


When planted closely together, evergreen shrubs and bushes make attractive hedges. These living fences create borders between property lines and divide areas of the landscape. Evergreen hedges require regular maintenance to flourish and thrive. Periodic trimming keeps an evergreen hedge looking neat and attractive. Correct trimming results in a full and healthy row of evergreen shrubs.

Step 1

Trim your evergreen hedge after the first year or two. Use sharp pruning shears and cleanly snip away small sections of your shrubs. This first cutting removes uneven growth and encourages thick branching in young plants. Start shaping your evergreens as they begin to mature by removing just the uneven growth and broken or misshapen branches.

Step 2

Train your evergreen hedge as the growing shrubs merge with one another. Cut in the spring, shortly before new shoots begin appearing on the shrubs. Gradually train and encourage your hedge to form a solid wall of green by removing just the outside sections of the longest branches. Avoid cutting near inside branches and old growth, which damages many species of evergreen shrubs.

Step 3

Shape your hedge as the shrubs mature to create the correct contour. Construct a guide to ensure uniform cutting. Pound tall garden stakes into the soil near the outside edge of each of the end shrubs. Tie a string to the stakes to provide a guideline to follow when cutting. Trim just the branches extending beyond your string. Stop trimming every few feet and step back to view your work. Use a tape measure to check your cutting as you progress down the row of evergreens.

Step 4

Continue using your hand pruners to cut away small sections of twigs and branches that extend beyond the contours of your mature hedge. Avoid using power trimmers when shaping your evergreen hedge. These tools often tear and damage evergreen hedges, causing irreparable damage to your shrubs.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Garden stakes
  • String
  • Measuring tape


  • Texas A&M University: Pruning Hedges
  • North Dakota State University: Arborvitae
  • Stihl: How to Trim Your Hedge
Keywords: evergreen maintenance, trim shrubs, trim hedge

About this Author

Laura Dee is a writer, artist, and the co-owner of Wallace & Wallace Copywriting,an online business which specializes in providing marketing materials and copy to various companies. She has written for Demand Studios since 2008 and is currently working on a series of childrens' picture books.