Project Guide

How to Trim Hedges

Knowing When to Trim Your Hedges
Hedges growing along a willow fence.

Non-flowering and evergreen hedges should only be trimmed as needed, but it's important to reshape them before they become overgrown to prevent weed growth. This time frame varies depending on the season, your plant species and the amount of rainfall. Aim for every 6-8 weeks, at minimum, during the warmer months and reduce frequently as the weather cools.

For flowering hedges and shrubs, trimming will depend on when they bloom. Spring flowering shrubs should be cut after they bloom and summer ones should be cut in spring or winter. 

For new hedges and flowering shrubs, trim them early and often to encourage healthy growth and to establish your desired shape.

How to Choose a Trimmer
A variety of hedge trimmers on a table.

The first step is choosing the right types of hedge trimmers to fit your needs. Corded and cordless electric varieties are best suited for small to medium-sized hedges, while gas trimmers are designed to accommodate a wider surface area. Whichever style you choose, pick one with blades large enough for efficient hedge trimming. 

For more precise shaping, you will also need the proper handheld pruning tools. Hand shears and loppers can be used for hard-to-reach areas and pronounced angles, or for a more defined finish along the top. Pruning saws are great for making sharp cuts through thicker branches.

Tip: See our hedge trimmers buying guide for a more detailed explanation of the options available to you.

How to Trim Hedges
A person trimming hedges with a hedge trimmer.

Trimming hedges doesn't need to be time-consuming. Follow these simple steps on how to trim hedges and how to prune shrubs:

  • Shear the interior and other obvious problem areas first, then use a power trimmer to refine the shape.
  • Snip overgrown branches and limbs inside each bush. Clear enough space for sunlight and air to pass through and stimulate healthy growth. Make sure to prune the base near the roots as well.
  • Position a taut rope or string across the top and bottom of your hedge to establish a guideline. This will help make sure you don't cut too much of the shrub.
  • Slowly run the power trimmer along each side of the bush, little by little. Take frequent breaks to step back and assess the shape.
  • Once you've achieved a clean and even edging, use the hand shears again to make any finishing touches.
Hedge Trimming Tips
A person trimming hedges.

When it comes to the art of trimming hedges, there are a few tricks for making them look great. Here are a few tips on how to trim bushes like a pro:

  • Leave the bottom part of your hedge wider than the top. Since the lower branches don't receive as much sunlight, they die more quickly. If you don't overcompensate for this fallout, the bush will start to look uneven and eventually grow weak.
  • Wear safety gear for your hands and eyes. If you are sensitive to pollen or landscaping debris, make sure to wear a face mask to shield your nose and mouth.
  • Do not use dull handheld trimming tools. Keep your cuts as clean as possible to help the branches grow evenly and strong.
  • For flat cuts across the top, hold the power trimmer completely horizontal to ensure a uniform shape.

Knowing how to trim bushes will save you time, money and increase the curb appeal of your home. Shop The Home Depot for trimmers, pruning tools and everything you need to get your hedges in shape. Ready to find the supplies you need in your local store? Use The Home Depot app to locate products and check inventory. We'll take you to the exact aisle and bay.