Hedging Your “Frets”

I was recently asked when the best time to trim your Boxwood and Yews are. I have a lot of hedges, both Boxwood and Yews, and I have trimmed them at different times of the year, depending on my personal scheduling and when they seem to need it most.


This past winter was brutal. Record cold temperatures, then very mild, toggling back and forth from freezing to thawing, reeking havoc on these plants. I’ve never witnessed a more challenging year and some replacements were required. Don’t worry, here’s what I’d advise:

Boxwoods are dormant in the winter months. The professional rule with Boxwood is to trim right before or after they wake up in the spring. It’s really best to avoid shearing or trimming in the late fall, as the new growth that follows trimming may not have time to harden off before frost.

This is true of most varieties of Yews as well. Best to trim during the winter season when the plant is dormant. Or, depending on the zone you’re in or the variety of Yew, early spring might be a better alternative. If you’re going to trim later, wait until the new growth has had some time to come in, usually mid to late July.

I prefer to hand trim my Yew and Boxwood hedges, topiaries and bushes. This allows me to be more selective, more exact. I find the plants seem to favour this in terms of growth and health. Electric trimmers don’t provide the specificity of cleaning out dead branches or unwanted growth. They also tend to splay or split the ends randomly which isn’t ideal for the plant’s recovery or new growth. This seems particularly true of the Boxwood.

So, there you have it and as they say, “Don’t worry, be happy. Enjoy your hedges!”