Trimming and Laying

The biodiversity value of your hedge will be determined by its structure as well as its species composition. Trim to create a dense, twiggy and varied structure.

Reduce trimming intensity. If you can, trim established hedges only every 2-3 years. Intensive trimming puts the hedge under stress and can lead to deterioration in its condition.

Cut on a varied rotation for a varied habitat. If required you could reduce the intensity of trimming on just part or one side of the hedge. Also allow the hedge height to increase a little every time you trim, if possible.

Trim by hand if possible to avoid split branches that can encourage fungal infection.

Pick out some straight stems in long hedges and leave them untrimmed to grow into hedge trees.

Avoid the nesting season. Ideally trim between December and February to ensure that nesting birds are not disturbed and winter food sources are not destroyed.

Choose a suitable hedge shape. Hedges can be kept at any height but some hedge shapes are thought to be of greater value to wildlife than others.

Laying hedges also improves their structure for biodiversity. It reduces the need for regular management as it only needs to be done every 10-30 years. The hedge must be at least double the desired final height to be suitable for laying. Very thick stems should not be cut.