When and How to Trim A Cedar Bush

Knowing how to trim a cedar bush properly is your key to chic garden elevated by the plant.

how to trim a cedar bush

It is an established fact that pruning hedges contributes to the elongation of your yard.

But how to do it correctly (and professionally)? I’m here to provide you with some valuable information!

When To Trim A Cedar Bush

The ideal time to trim your cedar hedge is from early to late June, depending on your climate.

This period is best chosen after the lilacs have finished blooming.

By this time, your hedge has essentially finished growing for the year, but its new growth will still have a lighter shade of green compared to the previous year’s stems.

how to trim a cedar bush

It is crucial to focus on pruning into the current year’s growth, which is easily distinguishable by its “spring green” color.

Trimming can also be done later in the season, until early September, but it becomes more challenging to differentiate between new and older growth as the “spring green” color fades away.

How To Trim A Cedar Bush: Step-by-Step

Step 1: Determine the Pruning Length

Aim to remove approximately one-third to two-thirds of the length of the current year’s shoots.

Step 2: Choose Your Pruning Tool

Opt for either a manual or motorized hedge trimmer based on your preference and the size of your hedge.

Step 3: Consider Young Hedge Growth

For young hedges, prune less as you want them to grow in height. Adjust pruning frequency as they reach the desired height.

Step 4: Annual Pruning Maintenance

Once your hedge has reached the desired height, make annual pruning a routine to maintain its shape.

Step 5: Maintaining a Straight Line

For precision, insert tall stakes at each end of the hedgerow and stretch a cord between them. Adjust the cord’s height using a level for a straight line.

Step 6: Trim Along the Cord

Follow the cord with your trimmer, ensuring not to cut the cord itself.
Trim the hedge evenly along the stretched cord for a neat and uniform appearance.

Step 7: Optional Relaxation Approach

If a perfectly straight line feels too precise, take a more relaxed approach without using stakes and cords.

Giving Your Hedge the Perfect Shape

how to trim a cedar bush

It is important for the hedge to have a broader base than the top, promoting even greenery distribution.

This prevents bottom leaves from being overshadowed, ensuring they receive ample sunlight and avoid thinning out.

Moreover, shaping the top into a rounded or pyramidal form not only enhances aesthetics but also serves a functional purpose by facilitating the shedding of snow and ice, reducing the risk of damage during winter.

  • Broaden the base of the hedge for bottom-up greenery vitality.
  • Prevent shading of bottom leaves to maintain their foliage health.
  • Shape the top into a rounded or pyramidal form for both aesthetics and functionality.
  • Facilitate easy shedding of snow and ice to prevent damage during winter.

Can You Reduce a Cedar Hedge?

how to trim a cedar bush

If you want to control the height of your cedar hedge, it’s best to trim it annually without cutting beyond the current year’s growth.

However, if your hedge has been slightly neglected for up to two years, you can reduce its height and width by pruning more severely while still staying within the green part.

Avoid cutting into the wood that is over two years old (brown wood), as cedars do not regrow well from old wood.

When Neglect Goes Too Far

Sometimes It Means Bye Bye To Your Cedar Hedge Whatsoever

how to trim a cedar bush

If your cedar hedge has grown excessively wide or tall due to neglect, a consequence that can occur rapidly without annual trimming, restoring it to a more suitable size may pose challenges.

Unlike non-conifer hedges, which can be pruned back to the ground and recover well, cutting into the old wood of a cedar hedge can lead to uneven regrowth.

This results in an open top and sides filled with dead patches that may take years to rejuvenate, if at all.

In such circumstances, the recommended course of action is to remove the hedge entirely and start anew.

Sometimes You Can Fix It With Ease

how to trim a cedar bush

However, if the hedge is excessively tall but not excessively wide, attempts can be made to reduce its height.

Prune the hedge at least one foot (30 cm) lower than the desired height.

Initially, this will yield a hedge with green sides and a dead top.

Through careful annual pruning, allowing the hedge to grow approximately 2 inches (5 cm) taller each season, you can gradually coax the side branches to grow inward and fill the dead center.

Over time, the gap at the top will close, resulting in a satisfactory hedge.

It’s important to note that achieving the desired results through this process may take several years.

How to Trim a Cedar Bush: Special tips

how to trim a cedar bush

Here are some special tips for trimming a cedar hedge:

  1. Timing:

    • The best time to trim a cedar hedge is in late spring or early summer. This allows the hedge to recover and produce new growth before the colder months.
  2. Light Pruning vs. Severe Pruning:

    • Light pruning throughout the growing season is generally better than severe pruning. Regular, light trims help maintain the shape and density without causing stress to the plant.
  3. Taper the Top:

    • To prevent the top of the hedge from shading the bottom and causing thinning at the base, taper the hedge so that it is slightly narrower at the top than at the bottom. This allows sunlight to reach the lower branches.
  4. Avoid Cutting Into Bare Wood:

    • When trimming, avoid cutting into the bare wood as cedar hedges may not produce new growth from old wood. Focus on cutting back to where there is still green foliage.
  5. Use Sharp Tools:

    • Use sharp, clean pruning tools to make clean cuts. Dull or dirty tools can cause tearing, which may lead to damage and disease.
  6. Remove Dead or Diseased Wood:

    • As you trim, remove any dead or diseased wood to promote overall hedge health.
  7. Maintain a Natural Shape:

    • Aim to maintain the natural shape of the cedar hedge. Avoid cutting into the interior too heavily, as this can lead to bare patches and a less attractive appearance.
  8. Clean Up Debris:

    • After trimming, clean up the debris around the hedge. This helps prevent the spread of diseases and pests and keeps the area neat.
  9. Watering After Trimming:

    • Water the cedar hedge well after trimming, especially if you’ve done a more substantial pruning. This helps the plant recover and encourages new growth.
  10. Consider Local Regulations:

    • Before trimming, check if there are any local regulations or restrictions regarding the trimming of hedges, especially if the hedge serves as a property boundary.
how to trim a cedar bush

Remember that cedar hedges are generally forgiving, but proper pruning techniques will contribute to their long-term health and appearance.

In conclusion, the moral of the story is clear: if you choose to plant a cedar hedge, be prepared to trim it every year without any excuses!