Hedge maintenance and care

With the right maintenance and care, your hedge will be more than a boundary – it will be the pride of your garden. We have the expert tips you need.

A woman wearing eye protection and protective gloves, using a hedge trimmer to cut the top of a green hedge that she is standing behind

Hedge care

If you take good care of your hedge it will grow dense and healthy, to form a beautiful living wall in your garden. As early as when you choose and plant your hedge, you should be aware of its maintenance needs and plan for appropriate watering, trimming and fertilising. Even with the most diligent care efforts, you may find your hedge develops thin patches or disease, in which case maintenance must quickly move to treatment. If you take action early, it’s often simple to tackle pests and diseases and protect your hedge from more serious damage.

When should I carry out hedge maintenance?

Throughout the year you should keep an eye on your hedge so you can spot any problems. From spring to autumn the main consideration is keeping your hedge watered, and to fertilise it once. If needed, you can also carry out light maintenance pruning to keep your hedge in shape during these months, though you must be careful not to disturb nesting birds. Then in winter, you can prune more heavily if needed.

Hedge maintenance: when to trim

For a tidy hedge we recommend you trim twice a year or so, though some hedges will only need it once. Be mindful of the nesting period, as you mustn’t trim your hedge if it has resident birds that will be disturbed.

What type of hedge is best?

Think carefully about what you want from your hedge and what position it will be in for maintenance: do you want it to be very tall? Yew will do the job, but it grows very slowly; coniferous thuja might suit you better. If you know you have quite wet ground, hornbeam or hawthorn are more likely to thrive than some hedge varieties. Evergreen or deciduous; fast- or slow-growing; high- or low-maintenance; flowering or thorny to deter intruders – there are many decisions to make. With some forethought you can be confident of choosing the right hedge for your garden.

Planting hedges

Spring is the best time to plant any hedge. The spacing between the seedlings and the edge of your property depends on the type of hedge you are planting and what you want from it. When planting your hedge, you should consider access for maintenance, soil quality and likely size.

Hedge diseases

Most hedge plants are very robust, but they can be damaged by some diseases and pests. Insects, rusts and moulds can all cause severe damage if left unchecked, so your hedge maintenance should include regular careful inspection for signs of problems. If you treat it in good time though, your hedge may emerge largely unaffected.

Hedges with gaps

Gaps in hedges are dispiriting, but fortunately they are usually easy to fix. If you find a patch of dead leaves during your hedge maintenance, trim back to healthy wood and smaller gaps should fix themselves in time. You can also “train” a stem across the gap and tie it in place until it settles. A large gap in a hedge can generally only be fixed with a replacement plant.

Fertilising hedges

If you need to fertilise your hedge, make it part of your March or April garden maintenance, so your hedge has key nutrients available before it faces the stresses of summer. Choose a specialist product for your hedge.