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Hedge cutting - best time for plant + birds?

Hi all,

From the RSPB:
"We recommend not cutting hedges and trees between March and August as this is the main breeding season for nesting birds..."

From the RHS:
"Timing of pruning should take into account the potential for nesting birds... However in general, these are the optimum timings for pruning hedges:
* Deciduous hedges - Maintenance pruning: Each summer
* Evergreen hedges - Maintenance pruning: Each summer"

So, to be pedandic about it, does everyone rush around between 1st September and the autumn equinox (around 22nd September) to trim their hedges?  Also, with a formal hedge that needs 2 or 3 cuts a year, when would be another opportunity to do it?

Thanks in advance,

JT

Posts

  • You use your common sense within the rules - if you have birds nesting in your hedge, you avoid the nesting period before causing a disturbance by maintenance.
    If you don't have birds nesting, you maintain your hedge as and when required :)
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 7,315
    I wait until August, yes. And do a big hack back in Jan / Feb - after the berries.
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 26,166
    I have blackbirds nest in a topiary bay tree every year, but they time they leave it needs a good cut back , now it's covered in buds so I daren't cut any more off in Spring before they START nesting.
    Devon.
  • Formal hedges, to me, are cut every 4 weeks at least. If you don't see, or hear, nests... cut away. Light trims can be done even with deep nests present. 
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 7,315
    It's tricky. I have a small front garden with a large pyracanthus. It needs constant trimming to keep it from taking over but I try and nurture the berries for the birds. Left to itself it would pretty much double its size in a year. It preceded my moving in and it is lovely, but maybe wrong plant in the wrong place. It's in a hedge with two beech hedge trees, two crab apple hedge trees and a holly hedge tree all of which I try and keep compact and in scale to the 2x3 metre garden. Not very low maintainance but very colourful in spring and autumn and are plants full of change and life.
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 5,930
    We have beech hedges and do a proper maintenance cut in August with a tidy of straggly bits in May and October. Quite a few birds nest in the hedge. They’re not generally disturbed by the very light tidy up in spring and have gone by the time of the more extensive cut in August.

    The hedge borders a very narrow footpath and we have to keep it well trimmed on that side otherwise there are complaints from the Parish Council. One year we nearly decapitated poor Mrs Blackbird who’d not nested far enough into the hedge. She immediately flew from the nest leaving eggs. We kept watch and within a few hours she was back and successfully hatched all the eggs and raised her babes despite being relatively exposed to the footpath traffic. Blackbirds are such good parents!
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • Fire said:
    I wait until August, yes. And do a big hack back in Jan / Feb - after the berries.
    Thanks Fire, although I'd be a bit wary myself of cutting back hard that early for an evergreen hedge (e.g. privet).  Do you have any problems with frost damage on the new growth, given that evergreens are not really dormant in Jan/Feb?
  • Topbird said:
    One year we nearly decapitated poor Mrs Blackbird who’d not nested far enough into the hedge. She immediately flew from the nest leaving eggs. We kept watch and within a few hours she was back and successfully hatched all the eggs and raised her babes despite being relatively exposed to the footpath traffic. Blackbirds are such good parents!
    This is what I'm slightly worried about.  I get the 'common sense' thing, and the checking for nests thing, but that's a difficult task with a lengthy and dense hedge e.g. privet, Lonicera nitida etc.

    How do people go about this with any degree of certainty?  Otherwise, is the general idea to do a quick check and hope for the best?

    Also, do birds tend to return to the nest after being spooked by a hedge cutter e.g. a loud 2-stroke one?
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 7,315
    "Do you have any problems with frost damage?"

    I haven't had any problems.

  • johnterry said:
      I get the 'common sense' thing, and the checking for nests thing, but that's a difficult task with a lengthy and dense hedge e.g. privet, Lonicera nitida etc.

    How do people go about this with any degree of certainty?  Otherwise, is the general idea to do a quick check and hope for the best?


    I'd guess it depends how much you are at home to observe what birds may be using your garden during the nesting period and what is the likelihood of them nesting. 
    If you are out at work all day, it's not that easy.
    Lonicera and privet are both dense and fast growing as you say but once established, if you stick to the trimming in Spring and Autumn, I can't see you can do much else. Unless you want to be fanatically "tidy" you should be ok. 
    Quite often the rules and regulations tend to make the average person feel somewhat guilty but they are broken/ignored every day by business concerns. 
    At least you as an individual are asking about this particular issue and you are therefore aware and prepared to do your best - good for you :)
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