How to Cut Overgrown Hedges

Written by katie jensen
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How to Cut Overgrown Hedges
A well-maintained flowering hedge. (poinsettia hedge 3. image by mdb from

Overgrown hedges are unsightly and can be a hazard, if they block the view of traffic or make it easy for thieves to enter your house because they hide the front door or windows. Before hacking away at the jungle in your yard, review the requirements of the plants. Some won't take well to intensive pruning and need to be cut back several times a year rather than all at once.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Rake
  • Wooden stakes
  • Hammer
  • String
  • Electric clippers
  • Heavy-duty pruners
  • Saw

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  1. 1

    Remove refuse from the bottom of the hedge. Rake out as much debris, fallen leaves and twigs as possible.

  2. 2

    Pound in the stakes every 10 feet or so about a foot in front of the hedge. Measure the height that you want the finished hedge to be. Mark on the stakes that height. Tie a string from stake to stake using the marks as a guide.

  3. 3

    Cut the hedge with electric clippers, or with manual clippers, using the string as a guide. If the hedge is very overgrown, say more than 3 feet, cut the height down in stages.

  4. 4

    Use heavy-duty pruners to cut branches more than 1/2 inch in diameter.

  5. 5

    Remove the stakes.

  6. 6

    Cut the width of the hedge back to within a foot of your desired width. In other words if the hedge is 6 feet wide and you want it to be 3 feet wide, cut it back a foot from each side.

  7. 7

    Pound stakes in the ground at the final width. Use them as a guide as you finish pruning.

  1. 1

    Remove refuse from the bottom of the hedge.

  2. 2

    Cut the hedge down to 24 inches. You may have to trim away some of the branches as you go to get to the inner branches. This drastic pruning doesn't work for all hedges. Research whether it will for your plants. It does work on bougainvillea, roses, Texas Sage, oleander, pyracantha, heavenly bamboo and many others.

  3. 3

    Fertilise and water well.

Tips and warnings

  • Keep the new growth trimmed when it reaches the height and width you want.
  • Wear goggles when pruning.

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