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How to trim a hedge

The first thing you need to consider before trimming your hedge is what shape you want your hedge to have.

Hedge shapes

There are three common hedge types.

  • The Flat Top:
  • A rectangular shape, is perhaps the most classic way to trim a hedge. From the hedge’s point of view, however, it’s a rather unnatural way to grow.
  • The Saddle Top:
  • A rounded shape, is a more natural way for a hedge to grow. The hedge becomes evenly green and also easier to trim.
  • The Pointed Top:
  • Is a shape that’s rather easy to achieve. It’s also good for the hedge in terms of growing, as the shape lets more sunlight in.

Before you start trimming, take a look inside the hedge. Metal wires, toys and litter are things you don’t want to let the knives run into. Always wear hearing protection, protective glasses, a long-sleeved shirt or sweater, gloves, protective trousers and boots while working with a hedge trimmer.

How do you get a level height?

A good tip is to find a button in your shirt at the same height you want your hedge to be. Take aim from the button and cut a couple of marks with your trimmer at a few select spots. When you do the trimming you just need to follow the marks.

Hedge trimming tips

Do a rough trimming of the whole hedge first, that is, leave a few centimetres for adjustment and fine polishing. Stay in one place and cut forward and back with sweeping moves. Do not trim while walking or sideways. Tilt the knife slightly to one side while cutting forward, then to the other side on the way back to make it easier.

If your hedge trimmer is equipped with a twistable handle, it’s easier to cut the sides of the hedge and keep the throttle pressed down.

Don’t be afraid to get close to the hedge. If you stand right next to the hedge and look sideways (not straight ahead) while trimming it’s easier to see if it gets level. While cutting, you simultaneously create a free spot for yourself to stand in.


Do not hold the trimmer too far away from your body, as you will get tired in your arms and back faster. Never release the two-hand grip while the trimmer is running and always turn it off when clearing away branches and litter.

Taking care of your hedge

Trim your hedge often if you want it green and flourishing. Regular, trimming also makes work less hard. Different hedges have different conditions to take into account, so check what’s recommended for your hedge and climate zone. Always do the last trimming before the frost.

If you want your hedge to grow, leave about 10 centimetres each year, and it will grow nice and dense.

When you’re done, use a blower to clear away branches and debris, or pick it off by hand. Cut off branches left in the hedge will look dead after a while.