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Pruning hedge in autumn: When is the right time for a maintenance topiary?

Hedges offer much more than visual protection. They are also important food sources for insects and small animals and popular nesting sites for birds. Therefore, it is prohibited by law to cut back the hedge during the breeding season of birds. Such radical pruning can be done only in the cold season – in late autumn and spring. And this main pruning is very important for most hedge plants. It promotes growth and prevents them from becoming bald. However, not all plants need such pruning in the fall. There are also species that can get through the winter in good health with a topiary. We explain how to prune your hedge in autumn, from when it is allowed and what you should pay attention to.

Cut the hedge in autumn: From when is it allowed?

Hedge trimming from when is it allowed

From October to February, maintenance pruning is allowed. Removal of the hedge is also permitted during this period. A topiary, on the other hand, can be done all year round. To be on the safe side, you should first check the hedge for birds and small animals.

As a general rule of thumb, winter-hardy plants can tolerate a topiary in the fall. Conditionally hardy plants are better pruned in the spring. They need more time to regenerate and could freeze to death.

Cut hedge in November garden tips for different hedge plants

Furthermore, it is important to get the hedge into the right shape. The plants will especially benefit from a pyramid shape. This will ensure that all parts of the plant get enough sunlight. Precise execution is desirable, but not necessary. Fortunately, most pruning mistakes can be corrected as you go along.

Choosing the right tool depends on two factors. Experienced amateur gardeners who have a long hedge, often resort to special electric hedge trimmers. Protective clothing, gloves and goggles are an absolute must. You should also have some experience, because the handling of an electric hedge trimmer is not easy. You also need to take into account the permitted hours of operation. Basically, it is regulated that you can use noisy power tools in the garden only on working days from 9 am to 1 pm and from 3 pm to 5 pm. However, to be on the safe side, you should check with the local authorities.

Hedge trimming in November tips

Therefore, beginners and gardeners who have a small hedge, better to use a hand hedge trimmer. Also in this case, gloves are essential. A hand hedge trimmer also has the distinct advantage of being quiet. Therefore, you can work with it on weekdays between 9 am and 8 pm.

Hibiscus hedge trimming: In the fall, only a topiary is an option

Hibiscus hedge cut in the fall or not


Unlike other flowering shrubs, hibiscus is pruned back in the spring. In autumn, only a topiary is possible. However, only diseased, woody and withered parts of the plant should be cut off. Young shoots are best just left standing. If the winter is very cold, the hibiscus will freeze back. The young shoots then form a protective layer. This allows the shrub to survive even permafrost.

Thuja hedge pruning: Care pruning is possible in autumn

Thuja hedge cut in autumn caring topiary tips

The Thuja hedge does not tolerate pruning. However, maintenance pruning is possible and desirable. Such pruning should be done no more than once a year. The best time is in spring, because then the delicate plant has enough time to recover. Alternatively, autumn is a good time. Especially the month of October is suitable for this. If you cut your thuja hedge in November, you risk that it will not be able to recover before the first frost and will freeze to death.

Cut privet hedge: November is not the right time for a topiary cut

Privet hedge trimming in autumn or spring


A privet hedge is usually pruned once at the beginning of summer and once at the end of summer. Only topiary is allowed during this period. It is best to check with local authorities on how this topiary can be done.

Prune the bamboo hedge in the fall: Remove only individual shoots

Bamboo hedge cut in autumn or not gardening tips

The bamboo hedge also needs a topiary. This is usually done in the spring. However, if you have missed the right time, you can also bring the hedge into the desired shape in the fall. This usually involves cutting back only diseased or withered shoots at ground level. The goal – to ensure by even thinning that all parts of the plant get sunlight.

Should the cherry laurel hedge be cut in autumn?

Cherry laurel hedge cut in autumn or not gardening in November

The cherry laurel hedge tolerates a maintenance pruning once a year. Ideally, this should be done in early July to allow the plant to recover. However, since most birds are nesting at this time, no radical pruning is allowed. Most amateur gardeners therefore opt for topiary in the spring, around the end of winter. In the fall, only individual diseased shoots can be removed. But you really should not cut back more, otherwise the plants can freeze at the interfaces.