Monty Don says the trick to a stunning garden is to prune hedges now – what you need to know

Monty explains why pruning hedges in January will make for a more vigorously growing garden come spring – and which hedge varieties are best pruned now

Monty Don wearing navy jacket and smiling
(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

If you want your garden hedges to look healthy, bushy and green this spring, according to Monty Don's latest hedge pruning advice the hard work should start this month. 

In his latest blog post detailing the gardening job to tackle in January, Monty Don says the best time to cut hedges is this month as that will make their regrowth in the next growing season (spring) more robust, compared to cutting back any other time of the year.

But the gardening guru warns that this applies only to certain varieties of hedges, while others should be left alone for now and pruned in the springtime instead.

Monty Don wearing navy jacket and smiling

(Image credit: Getty / Colin McPherson / Contributor)

Monty Don’s hedge pruning advice for January

In his January blog, Monty Don writes, ‘If you cut hedges now they will regrow with extra vigour so it is the best time to cut back a weak hedge.’

He adds that if you leave the trim until the summer, the growth will be stumped instead. 

‘If you have a very overgrown deciduous hedge it can be taken back right to the ground and will regrow afresh to make a hedge that is thicker and denser but more manageable,’ he writes.

So cutting back your hedge now is apparently one of the best things you can do to have a greener and bushier growth in your garden come spring and summer.

And there are other benefits to choosing January as the time when to cut back your shrubs.

‘Pruning hedges in January has a couple of benefits,’ says Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench. ‘It allows you to shape them while they have fewer leaves, making it easier to achieve desired shapes or heights. It also helps you ensure they receive more light during the upcoming growing season, promoting overall healthier growth.’

Steve Chilton portrait
Steve Chilton

Steve is a passionate and knowledgeable garden expert with several years of experience within the field. As the director of LeisureBench, an industry-leading garden furniture company, Steve has developed strong expertise for all things nature and plants. 

A countryside house with a hedge and a green field

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

What you'll need:

What hedging plants can you prune in January?

You can’t prune all of the best hedging plants in January. ‘Generally, deciduous hedges (hedges that lose their leaves in winter) are good to be pruned in January,’ Steve says. 

‘This is because they are dormant during the winter months, and pruning is therefore less disruptive to their growth during this period compared to other seasons.’

So most evergreen hedges are off-limits. As well as spring-flowering ones.

‘Avoid pruning spring-flowering hedges, such as forsythia, because you risk removing their upcoming blossoms,’ says Petar Ivanov, Fantastic Gardeners' gardening and plant expert.

Petar Ivanov portrait
Petar Ivanov

Petar Ivanov is one of the company's top-performing experts and manages over six teams of gardeners, delivering stunning landscape results and fostering a deep connection with nature through his work.

Red brick house with a front gate and a hedge

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

How much should you cut back?

While Monty says an overgrown deciduous hedge can be cut back all the way to the ground, our experts recommend no more than one third of the growth.

‘When you're pruning, always use sharp tools to provide clean cuts and don't remove more than one third of the total growth of the hedge to maintain its health and appearance,’ Petar advises.

A garden with a wooden gate and a hedge

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)


Is it OK to trim hedges in January?

‘January can be a suitable time to prune hedges, but it really does depend on the specific hedge species and the particular weather conditions of the time,’ Steve says.

As a general rule of thumb, most deciduous hedges are good to be pruned in January.

Happy January pruning!

News Writer

Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home decor and interiors, as well as trend-led pieces, shopping round-ups and more. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors, working with the likes of 91 Magazine and copywriting for luxury bed linen brand Yves Delorme among others. She feels that fashion and interiors are intrinsically connected – if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.