Monty Don explains why you shouldn't cut your hedges until after August

Wait until September or you could do more harm than good

garden hedges
(Image credit: Alamy)

Neatly trimmed hedges make an outdoor space look cared for, while also helping the plant to grow healthily. 

Gardening guru Monty Don has recently warned gardeners to wait until after August before getting their best hedge trimmers out, as it could be harmful to local birds.

low hedges in a neatly tended garden

(Image credit: Alamy)

The topic of cutting the hedge came up on a recent episode of BBC's Gardener's World. He referenced the advice from the RSPB, which says that you shouldn't cut hedges between March and August. 

'That's because birds are still nesting, there are young in the nest,' says Monty. 'If you start getting a hedge cutter out you're almost certain to disturb them, and the results will not be good.' 

During the episode, he uses some large garden shears to carefully cut away any long, thin branches that were causing an obstruction on the outside of his hedges. This neatens things up in the meantime before a more thorough trim come September. 

The breeding season for birds is typically between March and July. As long as there are no safety hazards, it's best to leave trimming hedges for the months from September to February. It should only be a job that needs doing once or twice a year.

Monty Don

(Image credit: Alamy)

Monty Don points out that it doesn't matter what kind of hedge you grow - whether it's a very low, clipped edging hedge or a tall boundary hedge. 'Whether it's deciduous or evergreen, now is not the time to do any serious hedge-cutting,' he emphasizes.

Whatever the time of year, check carefully for any wildlife in your hedges before trimming. You also can support local birds and add interest to your garden with the best bird feeder or an attractive birdbath. 

hedge with an archway cut out of it and borders with foxgloves and other flowers

(Image credit: Alamy)

Box hedges are one of the many garden screening ideas to improve privacy in your garden, if you're looking for ways to make a secluded spot. If you have more than one acre to play with, hedges also create a sense of wonder, as you can't always see what's around the corner.

Topiary used to be considered one of the more old-fashioned gardening design ideas out there, but it's currently having a resurgence. For now, however, leave any serious work overgrown hedges for another couple of months.

Millie joined Real Homes in early 2021 as a homes news writer. When she isn't writing about trends, makeovers and houseplant care, she spends her free time making tweaks to her rented flat in North London. Her next project is a very basic armchair reupholstering job to help create a cosy reading nook in her living room. She loves browsing antique centres, tending to her small front garden, and is never without some fresh flowers at home.