How To Trim Overgrown Hedges Without Ruining It

horizontal photo hands wearing gloves trimming hedges | How To Trim Overgrown Hedges Without Ruining It | Featured

Every gardening enthusiast must have the skills of how to trim overgrown hedges up their sleeves. Aside from grooming your hedges, trimming also encourages healthier, denser, and more colorful foliage that grows in an organized way.

Here are a few ideas on how to do it without damaging your hedges.

RELATED: 8 Best Hedging Plants For Garden Landscaping

How to Trim Overgrown Hedges Like a True Green Thumb

How to Trim Overgrown Hedges With Pruning Shears

cutting hedge using pruning shears | How To Trim Overgrown Hedges Without Ruining It | garden hedge

Things You'll Need

  • Hand-held pruning shears
  • Tarp
  • Working gloves


  1. First, lay down a tarp to make cleaning easier after trimming your hedges.
  2. Start by snipping off any dead, damaged, or diseased stems on the upper parts of your hedge. Such stems are at risk of attracting insects and spreading the disease to the rest of the greenery.
  3. Hold the branches deep in the pruner's jaw so you have more force to cut.
  4. Remove any overgrowth you do not want. This sets the mark on how far you want your hedges to go.
  5. Avoid making the upper parts of your hedges wider than the base. This will prevent the sunlight and air from reaching all parts of the plants.
  6. Carefully start thinning spots with grown thick outer cover. The best way to do this is by cutting at the plant base or along a branch, slightly above the new growth.
  7. Work your way down to the base of the hedge, removing any seemingly dead stems.

Pro Tips

  • The right time to prune and trim your hedges depends on the plant, but you can do some light trimming all year round.
  • Cutting further back inside your hedge encourages growth along the stems, hence more width.
  • During trimming, be sure to remove suckers and water-sprouts so your plants are not competing for nutrients with these small branches.
  • Pruning encourages growth, so reshape the top branches regularly to prevent them from out-spanning lower branches.
  • Initial shearing will leave your hedge looking bald-stemmed, but soon enough new and healthy foliage will grow, giving your hedge a fuller look.
  • If you have a relatively wide and tall hedge, go for long-handled loppers.
  • Keep the hedge clippings; this will be good for composting.
  • Clean cuts promote quicker healing.

RELATED: 13 Must-Try Backyard Landscaping Ideas For Small Spaces

How to Trim Overgrown Hedges With a Hedge Trimmer

hedge trimmer works gardener with gasoline hedge trimmer | How To Trim Overgrown Hedges Without Ruining It | flowering hedge plants

Things You'll Need

  • Hedge trimmer
  • Tarp
  • Safety glasses
  • Working gloves
  • Level
  • Mason Line
  • Landscape stakes


  1. Lay down the tarp for easier cleaning after trimming.
  2. Set up the landscape stakes along your hedge. A few inches from the hedge cover is the most ideal.
  3. Tie the mason lines or strings on the stakes you have set up. Unlike the stakes, the strings need to almost touch most of the foliage. Use a level to help you position the strings for perfection.
  4. To achieve a more formal look on your hedge, slowly cut straight across the top and sides of your hedge using a hedge trimmer. Electricity or diesel-powered hedge trimmers will suffice.
  5. Keep the top narrower than the base. Since you are doing this by eye, stepping back to check your progress will help you.

Pro Tips

  • Hedge trimmers are efficient for working the tops and sides of hedges. However, using them inside the hedge cover will cut even the healthy stems, ruining your hedge.
  • Hedge trimmers with pivoting cutting heads and extended reach are the best for tall overgrown hedges.
  • A rounded hedge top will reduce snow accumulation in areas that experience heavy snow.
  • Remember to clean and oil your trimming tools to avoid rusting.

Watch this video from HandyGuy 2016 on cutting back overgrown hedges:

Hedges quickly get out of hand and ends up looking shabby, but with these tips, you are now set to make expert trims for more green thumb approved hedge looks. It calls for some skill, but you can never go wrong with these tips.

What shrubs are you growing for your hedge this season? Let us know by leaving us a comment below!

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