Pruning Foliage Hedges

Learn to prune hedges by following a few simple tips.

| March 2018

Home Gardener's Pruning: The Essential Guide to Caring for Shrubs, Trees, Climbers, Hedges, Conifers, Roses and Fruit Trees. (Home Gardener's Specialist Guide) (Fox Chapel Publishing, 2016), by David Squire, will guide any gardener through the pruning process for any yard. Squire gives step-by-step picture instructions to readers. It’s easy to follow and understand. This excerpt is located in “Hedges and Conifers.”

Hedges are vital components of gardens, creating privacy from neighbors, dulling the raucous and often continuous note of road traffic, and helping to prevent animal access. Additionally, they have an aesthetic quality, with many revealing either beautiful flowers or colorful foliage that can create very attractive backgrounds. There are even some hedges, such as the Dwarf Box (Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’), that form essential parts of knot gardens.

Initial Pruning

For all hedges it is essential to encourage bushiness, so that the base is packed with stems and leaves. Hedges which are not pruned when young invariably have bare and unsightly bases later in their lives. When planting is in late summer or early autumn, leave the initial pruning until spring of the following year. This is because young and tender new shoots that develop from late summer or autumn pruning may subsequently be damaged by winter frosts.

The initial pruning needed by hedges can be divided into three groups (see pictures).

Group One

Immediately after planting, cut back all shoots to 6 in (15 cm) above the soil.
• Buxus sempervirens (Box)
• Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn)
• Ligustrum ovalifolium (Privet)
• Lonicera nitida(Chinese Honeysuckle)
• Prunus spinosa (Blackthorn)
• Symphoricarpos albus (Snowberry)

Group Two

Immediately after planting, cut back all leading shoots and long side shoots by about one-third.
• Carpinus betulus (Hornbeam)
• Corylus avellana (Hazel)
• Corylus maxima ‘Purpurea’
• Fagus sylvatica (Beech)

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