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Leylandii hedge pruning

We have been in our house for 10 months now and we have inherited two 50ft Leylandii hedges either side of the garden. They are necessary as a wind break as we have open farmland either side. I have been waiting for a gardening firm to come and trim them back but they haven't turned up so I have decided to have a go myself.

My questions are: is it too late in the year to do this? (the weather is quite mild), and,

Will I be able to get  the lovely flat finish that I see on other hedges or do they require long term care to achieve that?

Birds use the hedges for nesting, so I don't want to disturb them during the spring.



  • hogweedhogweed Posts: 4,053
    It depends on a couple of things - how high the hedges are and if they have been pruned before. It is easier to get a truly flat finish if the hedges are about waist height than if you are up a ladder! If they haven't been cut before then it will take a few seasons to get the top dead level and thickly knit. 
    I have just got my hedges cut this week. I always do them in Oct/Nov once a year. 
    You can put a string level along them and cut to the string but I found that too much of a faff and when I cut them myself, I just used my eye. When you are doing the sides, just be careful you don't take them too far back. 
    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,876
    Remember, if you cut back into the brown wood it will  remain brown ... it will not regrow and turn green again.

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Thanks. I will give the sides a go. They are 12 feet high so I will need a ladder or platform and we can see from an upstairs bedroom that the top has been cut away and is just bare wood. They are about 8 feet thick.

    If I cut the green stuff back a little but not all the way back to the brown, will it just thicken up itself?

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,831
    Leylandii are a bit different to other conifers in that they don't have such a dense structure. It's why they have to be managed from the start to get them to look right, and have a 'solid' look to them.
    As long as you only take off green growth, they'll be fine Andy. They won't thicken as such, they'll just produce new growth.
    Have they been left a but untrimmed in the past then? It sounds like they're a bit gappy from your description. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • You can trim them all year round. Just make sure your hedge trimmers are as sharp as possible for a good finish. 

    Will you be buying a ladder for this job? If so, I would recommend a tripod ladder. A 12ft hedge you'll want to be standing on a step at 7ft. 

    Post a photo if you want and we'll offer any other thoughts.
  • AndyDeanAndyDean Posts: 157
    I had this exact issue at my old house. They were a right faff, because the neighbour didn't care  so I had to go round and do his side too! They won't regenerate in the middle, but what I tried to do was let the growing edges grow back in on themselves to cover up the gap. We were only there a few years, so I didn't get to see if it actually worked as it's slow going, but it did seem to be working! I found doing them once a year in autumn was fine. Like you, I didn't want to disturb the birds in spring/summer.
  • Lily PillyLily Pilly Posts: 3,845
    You will be horrified to know we planted 17 of these!  A new school had been built and we desperately need a screen.  as soon as they get to the right height we will take off the tops.  We are training the branches into each other to thicken the depth. We are astonished st how well the are doing! We are in a frost pocket and I never trim till April
    we lost 12 in various storms!
    used correctly and maintained responsibly they are lovely trees!
    Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them.”
    A A Milne
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