How to trim a hedge

Our step-by-step guide and tips will help you master the art of how to trim a hedge and maintain a beautiful hedge this summer.

Bushes and hedges offer bags of character and charm to your property as well as a pop of colour. They’re also handy for adding an extra level of security and privacy to any premise, whether that’s in your garden or on the outskirts of your business. And like any other plant, your hedges require proper maintenance to look their best. If it’s time for you to get out and do some light pruning, you’re in the right place!

At Smiths Hire, our tool hire services have everything you need to keep your hedges looking lush and beautiful. In our garden tools category,  we have a variety of powerful electric and petrol hedge trimmers that’ll help you effortlessly cut through conifer, low-growing, or large evergreen hedges, making hedge trimming a breeze. But before we dive into specifics, let’s talk about everything you need to think about before getting started!

Get to know your greenery

When it comes to trimming hedges, you can’t really get away with a one-size-fits-all approach – well, not if you want the outcome to be as polished as possible. Don’t worry, though; once you know what you’re dealing with, the rest is simple! So let’s get into it.

Cordless Hedge Trimmer

The fact of the matter is there are a great many different kinds of trees and shrubs that can be used and grown as hedges, and the maintenance will vary depending on what you’ve got growing. For example, some plants only need to be pruned once during the growing season, while others will need pruning and trimming twice or even three times in some cases. In some cases you’ll need powerful hedge trimmers, and in other cases garden shears will do the job just fine. So, the first step is to identify what you’re dealing with. Once you have that info in tow, you can crack out with the actual trimming.

garden shearsTrimming tools

Once you know what kind of hedge you’ve got it’s time to assemble your toolkit. Our hedge trimmers are available for hire and offer a quick and effective solution. At Smiths Hire, we offer a variety of hedge trimmer models to suit your needs, including petrol, battery-powered, and long-reach hedge trimmers. The long-reach trimmers are perfect for those hard-to-reach hedges that a traditional hedge cutter cannot reach.

For your standard hedge here’s what you’re going to need:

stihl trimmer

Trimming the hedge – step by step

Now that you’ve assembled all the necessary gear, it’s time to get to work. We’ve broken it down into 4 easy steps. A good tip to keep in mind before you start trimming is to trim the top of your hedges slightly thinner than the bottom so that the light can get to the leaves at the bottom of your hedge.

Step 1: Assess your hedge

Before you start trimming, walk along the length of your hedge and observe the growth rate to see if there are any inconsistencies on the sides or where the leaves may be growing slightly patchy. Your trim should remove the new or young growth, which is growth that’s less than 12 months old. However, if you’re looking for very uniform straight sides, you may need to leave some of the younger growth to keep things neat and even, so it’s best to keep this in mind.

Step 2: Remove any obstacles and set up your guides

Next, you need to remove any obstacles that interfere with the trimming process. This could be anything from large rocks or branches to anything sitting or standing in front of your hedges. Before you begin trimming your hedge, it’s important to set up your string guides. To ensure a straight cut when trimming the top, run a line of string along the length of your hedge where you want to trim. You can also use the same technique to neaten up the bottom of your hedge. This will help you achieve the desired shape and a professional-looking finish.

If your hedge sits on a slope, you’ll need to decide prior to cutting whether you want to mimic the slope on your hedge or leave it flat at the top. 

Step 3: Keep an eye on your progress

A good rule of thumb for hedge trimming is to periodically take a step back and survey your progress from a distance. This will help you get a better sense of the overall look you’re trying to achieve and allow you to make adjustments as needed to ensure a polished result. No matter what type of hedge trimmer you’re using, keeping an eye on your work from a wider perspective is always a helpful best practice.

Step 4: Clear away any trimmings

Once you’re happy with the shape of your hedges it’s time to pack your tools away and clean up all the trimmings. Make sure you give the top of your shrubs a quick shake to loosen any loose twigs and leaves. Then simply sweep the debris into a pile and either dispose of it in the correct bin or stick it in the compost bin! If below your hedges is grass then a rake will be better suited to this task.


If you’re a DIY enthusiast or work in the trade, look no further than Smiths Hire for all your equipment and tool needs! We have been providing top-notch tool hire services across the North West and Yorkshire region for over 50 years. Our 16 tool hire depots, including in major cities like Manchester, Liverpool , and Leeds, are conveniently located near you, so you can always get your hands on what you need. Do you have questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out to our friendly team at 0333 323 2100.