Last year I planted a long row of beech to provide me with beech hedging. At the time they were approximately 30-40cm in height, and they have now grown to an average of 50-70 cm in height.

The final height at which I would like to keep my hedge is 1.5m tall. I have done some research online about cutting back the tops of the beech plants in order to promote growth, however I am getting mixed signals.

On the one hand, there is the argument that cutting off the tops now will provide me with "fuller" hedges as they will expand and form more side branches.

On the other hand, there is advice to wait until the plants are approximately 1.1-1.2m tall before cutting off the tops so that they have a rigid and strong centre.

I'm leaning towards the second option, any horticultural advice would be greatly appreciated.

1 Answer 1


Beech grows naturally on my property. So I went out and had a look at the twig arrangement on the branches. I saw a strong tendency for the smaller twigs to grow upwards. Other species like apple trees will produce twigs on the up side and the down side.

So, indeed, early topping will result in a fuller bottom. I guess the question is, is this what you want? What are your criteria?

It is easy enough to picture it; branches with twigs right to the ground, or the first couple of feet empty of foliage. In the first instance you have a more pleasing looking hedge, and one that will be more of a barrier to wind and wildlife, but one where you will need to bend more to trim, unless you have a good long mechanical bar on your trimmer.

The second will be easier to maintain, but aesthetically it will appear that you took the easy way out.

Finally, if you choose option full bottom you can reasonably easily revert to an open bottom. Much harder the other way around.

  • Thanks a lot, this mostly answered my question. The beech needs to be a good wind breaker, so I do think I will go for the full bottom option. My main worry was that the structural integrity of the hedge might be breached if the full bottom was chosen, and that the strong winds we have here could blow it into an angle. Do you have any experience with strong winds affecting the fuller hedges negatively?
    – Hammergold
    Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 13:17

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