Hedge Cutting

Anything from regular routine hedge cutting to one-off hedge restoration projects.

Subject to the type of hedge and its location there are three main ways that we undertake hedge cutting:

Cutting using hand operated hedge trimmer

Hedges in and around domestic gardens, as well as small commercial sites will always be cut using hand operated equipment. We use a combination of standard hand-held hedge trimmers and long-reach hedge trimmers to cut as much of the hedge from ground level. Where hedges are too high to reach from ground level, we use specialist tripod steps of varying heights. As hedge trimmers operate with a reciprocating cutting head, they provide a neat and tidy cut with any cut arisings falling onto the ground below. These arisings are then raked into piles and loaded onto our vehicle to be removed from site.

Cutting using a tractor with side-mounted flail

Hedges on larger commercial sites, around fields or on the side of the road, where there is good access adjacent to the hedge, can be cut with a tractor side-mounted flail. This is a much quicker and cost-effective way of cutting longer lengths of hedges. Due to the size of the tractor and dangers of a working flail, the site would need to be cordoned off from the public. The flail cutting method provides a less clean cut when compared to a reciprocating hedge trimmer but this is still suitable for most mixed species hedges. The majority of the arisings will be mulched up into small fragments and are often left in situ at the base of the hedge, however, where flailing a hedge near to a footpath or road we would always rake up and remove the cut arising.

Cutting using a chainsaw and wood chipper

Where hedges have not be cut for two or more years, the new growth will likely be too thick in diameter for a hedge trimmer to cut through. In these cases, we would use a combination of a chainsaw and a pole-saw to cut the hedge in the same way as you would with a hedge trimmer. Due to the thickness of the branches being cut, this is much more time consuming. There will be much more cut arisings as well, so in some cases this may require a wood chipper. Therefore, we recommend keeping your hedges routinely cut to prevent them becoming overgrown.

As a general rule, we would recommend that you cut your hedges at least once a year but subject to its locations, and growing conditions, it may need cutting two or three times per year.

Hedge Cutting FAQs

Whilst there are no rules to state when you can and can’t cut you hedge, there are regulations that protect all nesting birds and hedges provide a good place for birds to nest. Where possible, you should avoid cutting hedges during the main bird nesting season which as a rough guideline is between the 1 March to the 31 August.

If a hedge needs to be cut within this period, then a thorough pre-work inspection should be carried out on the day of the works to check that there are no nesting birds within the hedge to be cut. If a nesting bird is found, then the works should be postponed until after the birds have fledged the nest or it may be suitable to set up an exclusion zone either side of the nest so that the remaining hedge can be cut.

The hedge would belong to the land owner of where the stems are situated. Whilst the branches and roots may be growing onto neighboring land, they remain the property of the hedge owner.

If a hedge is located along someone’s boundary, and the hedge is growing into neighboring land, the hedge owner is not duty-bound to cut back the neighboring side of the hedge to prevent it encroaching onto the neighboring land. Therefore, in most cases the hedge owner would only cut their side and the top of the hedge. In most cases, the hedge owner would have to access their neighbors land to cut the other side of the hedge and this would be trespassing, if undertaken without the land owner’s permission.

Whilst the hedge owner may choose to cut the neighbors side of the hedge, and ask permission to access their land to do so, they may not want to. In these circumstances, as the neighbor, you are within your rights to cut the hedge back to your property boundary. If you cut back the hedge further than your boundary, your neighbor could take you to court of trespassing or damage to their property. As the cut arisings from the hedge are the hedge owner’s property, you should offer the arisings back to the hedge owner. If they do not want them back, the arisings should be disposed of correctly.

It is always good practice to communicate with your neighbor when cutting a boundary hedges, whether this be as hedge owner wanting to cut their hedge or as a neighbor who wants to cut back a hedge that is encroaching onto their property.

To maintain a healthy hedge, whilst there are a few exceptions, we would recommend that a hedge is cut at least once per year. If a hedge is left uncut for more than a year, the growth can become too thick in diameter to cut with a hedge trimmer and may require a chainsaw.

Cutting hedges regularly encourages more growth and provides for a denser hedge, therefore we would recommend that most hedges are cut twice per year where possible. This would be in July and again in Autumn, however you can get away with cutting some deciduous species, such as Beech, once per year in late summer.

If hedges have been left unmaintained for more than a year, they may require reducing in height and cutting back hard with a chainsaw. This is more time consuming, and therefore more costly, than using a hedge trimmer so it is always best to keep hedges regularly maintained. It can leave the hedges looking quite sparse and bare and it may take a while before you achieve a nice dense uniform hedge again. Also, certain evergreen species, such as Conifer, will not grow back if cut back too hard.

This is dependent on the tree species but in most cases the best time of year to undertake tree work is from late-Autumn through to Winter, when the tree is dormant, and it is best to avoid Spring time and early-Autumn. The reason is that in Spring time the tree is actively growing and any tree pruning can be detrimental to the growth of the tree. Likewise, in early-Autumn the tree is pulling all the nutrients that it needs from the leaves and any tree work can put additional stress on the tree due to loss of nutrients.

There are a few exceptions to this general rule such as Walnut trees that should be pruned mid-Summer to early-Autumn as the tree is prone to bleeding sap through the open wounds. The other exception is if the tree, or a branch, is hazardous such as dead or diseased, as the safety of the surrounding public or buildings would take priority and, in most cases, any minor tree work or the removal of one branch, is not likely to have a detrimental affect on the whole tree.

If a tree or hedges is being removed, the time of year is mostly unaffected but one consideration would be bird nesting season. All species of nesting bird are protected all year round; however, they commonly nest between March to July. If there are no actively nesting birds within a tree then we can continue with the tree removal, however if there was a nesting bird within a tree, we would need to postpone the works until the birds had fledged the nest. In most broad-leaved species, with sparse canopies, it is easy to undertake a pre-work inspection for any nesting birds. However, with some evergreen species with dense canopies, such as Conifers, it is very difficult so we would look to schedule these works outside of bird nesting season, if possible.

In regards to hedges, it is dependent on how many times a year you plan to have the hedge cut and where the hedge is located. If cutting the hedge once per year then we would recommend cutting it between September to November. This falls outside of bird nesting season and is before the winter frosts. However, if you plan to cut you hedges twice per year then an earlier cut in June or July is recommended. In some circumstances, where hedges are close to paths or roads, they may require an earlier cut in June/ July to ensure that they are not impeding onto the paths or road.

Following a site visit to assess the extent of your works, and to provide you with a quote, our estimator will be able to advise and make recommendations on the best time of year to undertake your works.

Case Studies

Hedge flailing using tractor side-arm flail