Hedge Trimming 101: Your Guide to Trimming Australian Hedges

Follow this basic hedge trimming guide by B & R Tree Services to find out:

•    The style of trimming best suited to your hedges

•    What time of year is best for trimming your hedges

•    How frequently your hedges need trimming

Hedge Trimming Styles

Formal Hedge Trimming

The central feature of formal hedging is its sleek geometric lines.

Maintaining formal hedges requires owner upkeep on a relatively regular basis, as well as a thorough hedge trimming once a year to keep the plant healthy.

The neat look of formal hedge trimming suits compact plants with smaller leaves.

Species best suited to formal hedge trimming and are readily available in Australia include abelia, azalea, bougainvillea, box, camellia, conifer (e.g., cypress), coprosma, duranta, gardenia, lavender, lilly pilly, murraya, photinia, pittosporum, plumbago, rosemary, viburnum,  and westringia.

To get the traditional look of a formal hedge from these plants, make sure you:

•    Hire a professional to at least take care of the first hedge trimming. The first time will give you a point of reference to work towards as the hedge grows.

•    Always aim to trim your hedge in a square or wedge shape that is wider at the base than at the top. This shape will ensure the base gets maximum sunlight and looks more robust.

•    Make sure your hedge is under a meter in width at the very top, so that you can still manage it from your side of the fence. Unless of course you want to do the maintenance for your neighbour as well.

Informal Hedge Trimming

Informal hedges can divide outdoor areas in the same way as a formal hedge, but offer a softer, more relaxed look. They need less trimming and often have the bonus of producing flowers or fruit.

Plants that are suitable for informal hedges and are found in Australia include abelia, agapanthus, alternanthera (e.g., Little Ruby), azalea, bamboo, bottlebrush (Callistemon), camellia, flax, feijoa, grevillea, hebe, hibiscus, lavender, lilly pilly, nandina, oleander, plumbago, rose (eg Rosa rugosa), viburnum, and westringia.

A professional hedge trimmer can show you the best way to trim informal hedge varieties to produce the most flowers each season, as well as advise you on the varieties best suited to your garden.

Informal hedges make great homes for birds, but they can also house unwanted creatures like wasps, and other insects. So, if your hedge is more than a little overgrown and you haven’t been near it for a while, it’s worth getting a professional with the expertise and personal protective gear to do your big hedge trimming jobs.

When Should I Trim My Hedges?

Effective hedge trimming isn’t just about tidying hedges up when they are looking a bit rough around the edges.

If you trim at the right times, you won’t have to trim as often. With the correct timing, you can maximise the cover and thickness of formal hedges, and improve the flowering of informal varieties.

If you’re wondering when you should make a start on your hedge trimming, the first thing to consider is what type of hedges you have.

Trimming New Hedges

New hedges require formative trimming, and this trimming will determine their lifetime health and shape.

Formative hedge trimming should be conducted after planting and for the two years following planting.

If you are planning on spending money on hiring a hedge trimmer, the best time to invest in a professional is when you’re planting new hedges.

Unless you’re an especially experienced gardener, find an expert for this job because any accidental over-lopping will change the way your hedge looks for the rest of its life, or could even kill it.

Trimming Deciduous Hedges

For deciduous hedges, it’s best to conduct maintenance pruning each summer and formative pruning just after winter planting.

The most popular species of formal deciduous hedges include:

•    Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) – requires one hedge trim in mid to late summer

•    Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) – trim twice, once in summer and once in autumn

•    Beech (Facus sylvatica) – trim once in late summer

Popular informal deciduous hedges include:

•    Berberis thunbergia - trim straight after flowering

•    Forsythia - trim straight after flowering and get rid of old stems

•    Fuschia magellanica - trim in spring and take off old stems

•    Rosa rugose - trim in spring and remove the thin twigs

Trimming Evergreen Hedges

For evergreen hedges, you’ll want to conduct maintenance pruning each summer and formative pruning in the spring after planting.

Popular formal evergreen hedges include:

•    Box hedges (Buxus sempervirens), Privet (Ligustrum), Lonicera nitida  – trim two to three times during growing season

•    Holly (Ilex aquifolium) – trim once in late summer

•    Prunus laurocerasus - trim twice during growing season

Popular informal evergreen hedges include:

•    Berberis darwinii, Escallonia, Lavender (Lavandula) - trim straight after flowering

•    Cotoneaster lacteus – trim after fruiting

•    Pyracantha – trim in late summer

Trimming Conifers

Conifers are usually evergreen plants that bear cones or needle/scale-like leaves. They are best suited to formal hedge trimming.

Popular species of conifers include:

•    Lawson cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana) – trim twice, once in spring and once in summer

•    Leyland cypress (Cuprocyparis leylandii) – trim two or three times during their growing season

•    Yew (Taxus baccata) – trim twice, once in summer and once in autumn

•    Thuja plicata – trim in spring and again at the start of autumn

How Can I Identify My Hedge?

If you’re not your hedge’s original planter and aren’t hugely into gardening, chances are you don’t know what type of hedges you have.

However, in this day and age it’s relatively easy to find out what your hedge is by either:

•    Posting a picture of it on one of the many social media groups created to identify Australian plants

•    Taking a clipping to your local nursery

•    Asking your professional hedge trimmer to identify the species around your garden or property when you book your trimming

If you’d like to book a hedge trimming in Brisbane, or simply want advice on all things hedge-related, get in touch with B & R Tree Services today!

Simply call us: (07) 3264 6398 or 0411 645 784

Or fill out our online enquiry form and we’ll be in touch as soon as possible.