Can mature hedges be lightly clipped without disturbing nesting birds?

Hello there, I am new to this forum and am looking for some advice. I have recently moved into a property with a large number of very mature (30-40 years old) leylandii and Thuja. These are in the main in very good condition and have been regularly lightly trimmed to keep them in shape. A local gardener comes once a month and lightly prunes the new growth with hand shears. It's quite a big property so it takes a full year for him to work around the property. Given each individual hedge plant is at least 3-4m in diameter, that only hand shears are used and only the new straggly external growth is cut back, is it safe / OK to continue this regime? I ask as I have recently discovered the law re not disturbing nesting birds and am keen to comply with good practice but don't want to change a system that has worked well if it can still be used with a bit of care. Thanks in advance.

  • Hi Warren welcome to the community and well done for asking.
    The others may have other views but I would say if he is only taking off the straggly bits with hand shears that would be OK especially if he has been doing it for years.
    I think it's the cutting right back with hedge trimmers that expose the nests that would be a problem.
    Wait to see that the t'others say.

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  • I agree with Alan, light pruning to tidy the hedges (especially mature hedges with a lot of depth to them) should not pose a problem any time of the year but would only do any proper cut backs during October-November when trees/shrubs are more dormant and which is well after breeding season and before the harsher winter weather sets in.
    We used to have thick hedging of Laurel bushes which needed trimming three times a year to keep them in shape but we just light pruned during spring and summer and this did not disturb the birds at all - I did much of the pruning with hand shears.

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    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • Thank you Alan & Hazel for your prompt replies. If any other readers have a different view I would be keen to hear from you, but from what you have said I feel I can continue with what has gone before. Thanks again.