Start trimming young hedge plants soon after planting and long before they reach the final height of the hedge. Regularly snip back long shoots to encourage early branching and bushy growth. With large-leaved plants like this bay laurel you can simply pinch out the soft growing tips with your fingers or use secateurs.
When the hedge is the required height, trim it with hedge shears. To keep it neat, bay laurel often needs cutting about three times in the growing season. To make sure the top of the hedge is flat and level, keep cutting blades parallel to the top of the hedge. If necessary, run a string line between two sticks as a guide.
Timing is crucial with flowering hedges if you want them to flower. This camellia hedge receives only one good trim a year, immediately after flowering in early spring – camellia flower buds are initiated in summer on the ends of new shoots that grow after the trimming. Note the fat flower buds forming at the end of current season’s growth in this February photo. Any odd untidy long shoots can be cut off with secateurs in late summer or autumn.