Make & Give Home Candle Making

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When properly cared for, hedges can be beautiful ornamental additions to your garden. So how get here from a shapeless and scary shrub? Easy! Learn how to trim hedges! This guide will show you how and when to prune edges, and how to keep them thriving. 

Shaping plants into a formal hedge can be a wonderful way to create privacy or a backdrop in your garden, but it requires some maintenance to keep them looking good for the long term. Here are some tips on how to prune hedges, along with the tools to use, proper timing, and a few helpful tips.

Woman demonstrating how to trim hedges

How to Trim Hedges

Pruning hedges is very different than pruning trees. When pruning trees and shrubs I always suggest following the natural lines of the plant. The two exceptions to this rule are hedges and .

Because growing a number of plants together in a decorative shape fights against how the plants would naturally grow, it?s best to plan the hedge well and then keep up with pruning during its lifetime.

Here is everything you need to know about how to trim hedges.

Choose the Right Hedging Plants

First things first, make sure you?re growing a hedge with plants that respond well to being grown as a hedge. Hedging plants can be deciduous or evergreen; broad-leaf or conifers. The thing they all have in common is how they respond to heading cuts: by filling out.

The Best Plants to Use as Hedges

Plants suitable for hedging will be noted ?hedging plants? or ?topiaries? on their plant labels. Some popular varieties include:

  • boxwood (Buxus)
  • privet (Ligustrum)
  • yew (Taxus)
  • laurel (Laurus nobilis)
  • barberry (Berberis)
  • quince (Cydonia oblonga)
  • Euonymous, holly (Ilex)
  • juniper (Juniperus)
  • thuja (Arborvitae)
  • cedar (Cedrus)
  • firethorn (Pyracantha)
  • Viburnum

shrubs before pruning


shrubs after pruning

Start Trimming Hedges Young

Plants that are trained from a very young age make for the best hedge.

  • In the first two years, the plants will be cut back six to eight inches to encourage branching close to the core of the plant.
  • In the third year, the hedge can be shaped. This will determine its structure as it grows to its final mature size.

If the hedge isn?t shaped until after the plants have grown to their full size, there won?t be enough branching at the base to create a full hedge.

When the hedge is at the size and shape that you like it, the best way to maintain the look is to trim it frequently.
Hedges next to a house before trimming


bushes next to house after learning how to trim hedges

When to Trim Hedges

As a general rule, prune the hedge before the new growth blocks the sun from the lower leaves. As the lower leaves lose sunlight they begin to die off in favor of the new growth.

Some evergreens are quite quick growing and need to be pruned every four to six weeks in the growing season, while others may grow a bit slower and only need to be pruned once. The best way to determine how often to prune is to watch the growth and trim it before it begins to shade the leaves below.

Disclosure: this post was originally sponsored by who provided me with the set of pruning tools listed next. 

How to Trim Hedges Easily with the Right Tools

Part of learning how to trim hedges is choosing the right tools to work with. Many people choose electric trimmers seemingly for convenience and ease, but they can actually damage your bushes.

Electric Trimmers vs. Hand Tools

Many people use electric trimmers to prune a hedge but hand tools give you a cleaner cut and less damage to the branches.

An electric hedging tool will tear and rip the branches leaving uneven cuts, while a hand tool leaves clean cuts that heal nicely and keep the plant healthy.

Uneven cuts stress out the plant and are an open invitation for disease. Plus, there are many benefits to silent gardening as I previously wrote about in

trimming hedges with trimming shears

Prepare to Prune

One of the most important steps in learning how to trim hedges is the prep work. Before trimming your hedge, clear your workspace. Remember it?s always best to wear and . Additionally, you may wish to drop below your hedge to catch your clippings in order to make cleanup easier.

It can be challenging to maintain a uniform shape when pruning a formal hedge. It helps to use guidelines as reference points on where to cut and how much.

You can achieve this by running a string line tied tautly between stakes along the bottom of the hedge to guide how much of the side to remove and running a string line along the top to guide how much of the top to remove.

using a string line to trim a hedge straight

Clean and sharpen your tools before pruning. Keep a bucket of soapy water and a rag on hand to clean your tools in between plants if you are pruning multiple hedges. As cuts open up the wood to disease, it?s important to make sure you are keeping your tools clean.

Manual Hedging Tools

Here are some of my favorite hedge trimming tools that help me keep my own shrubs in shape.


small pruning shears for learning how to trim hedges

Use PowerGear2 Pruners to clear out any dead, dying, or diseased wood. The branches of a hedge are thick and woody, so you will want a powerful set of pruners to make quick work of the project. PowerGear2 Pruners give you more power than standard pruners so you can cut thicker branches and use less effort.

small saw for trimming hedges manually

Keep a POWER TOOTH? Softgrip? Folding Saw (7?) handy for cutting branches thicker than 3/4? in diameter for PowerGear2 Pruners and 5/8? for standard pruners. The saw blades are incredibly sharp, so it?s best to keep it in the folded position until you need to make a cut. The good news is that it will cut the branch easily with those sharp teeth!

hedge pruning tips and tricks

The PowerGear2? Hedge Shears are smaller and lighter than standard hedge shears and yet more powerful. This makes them very easy to use, especially if you are pruning a large hedge.

Start pruning at the bottom of the hedge and work your way up so that cut branches and leaves at the top can freely fall to the ground.

Shear the hedge in shallow layers to make sure you don?t accidentally expose bald spots in some of the shrubs. Position the blades at a right angle to the branches to get the cleanest cut. Be sure not to twist the branches or approach them at an odd angle, as they won?t cut cleanly.

If you use a string line, ensure that your shears are consistently parallel with your shrub to stay on track. If you tend to go off line a little bit it?s not going to make a huge difference; the plant will grow and fill in the gaps. With practice, it will become second nature.

Woman using extendible hedge shears for pruning bushes

If you have a high hedge, then the Power-Lever? Extendable Hedge Shears will make the job a whole lot easier! Extendable handles make high, hard-to-reach, or awkward cuts easier.

If the hedge is short enough, you don?t have to climb up and down a ladder a bunch of times. If the hedge is taller, you still benefit from telescoping shears because you can use a shorter and more stable ladder. This is particularly helpful in small spaces.

trimming hedges with grass shears

After pruning your hedge, go back with Power-Lever? Grass Shears and PowerGear2 Pruners to clean up any of the little bits that pop up after shearing is complete and to remove any leafless branches that protrude.

Grass shears are my go-to tool for finishing work. You can see how great they work on decorative topiaries .

How to Repair Damaged Hedges

If your hedge has become overgrown, or is bare or dying back, it can be hard to repair. Evergreen plants will not generally fill back in; it is better to replace the individual plants. Deciduous hedges will come back over time if carefully pruned when dormant.

Either way, it?s best to keep up with the job throughout the season and maintain your hedge properly than to fix problems once they arise.

shrubs damaged from excessive hedge pruning

Read More About Pruning

Pruning is just about one of my favorite things to do out in the garden. I love to shape trees and bring out their natural beauty. There are many people who are quite afraid of pruning and these guides are a great way to take the fear out of it!

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Making candles at home is fun, easy, and safe, as long as you have the right supplies. Even though the wicks, wax, and molds aren?t available at just any old store, when you know where to look, and know that you are looking for, it?s a cinch to stock up some supplies for candle making at home.

Candle Making Supplies and Resource Guide

Before you get started with the supplies, do you have a copy of ? I wrote this book to showcase 12 techniques for candle making at home. There are a number of different methods and some gorgeous gift ideas for artisan-inspired candles. Once you have your recipes and materials list, it?s time to stock up your supply closet!

Disclosure: Links in this post may go to online stores where I am an affiliate, which means I may earn a small commission if you buy them. This helps to support the website and creative projects found here on Garden Therapy. I scoured the web for the best and most creative ideas and researched all of the products so you can get right to the fun of candle making!

Healing Crystals Candle

Two Ways to Get Supplies for Candle Making

Candle Making Kits

When I first started sharing my candle making recipes, I got a lot of questions about where to find the supplies. There are so many wicks and wax options, that well-meaning crafters can become overwhelmed with choices. To help with this, I started putting together candle making kits for making jam jar candles and seashell tea lights and listed them in my Etsy shop. They sold out almost as soon as posted the listings and I found myself spending a whole bunch of time packaging and shipping kits, but I would have much rather been out in the garden or crafting! So, I stopped selling kits and looked for other kits that could get people started. Here are some great kits that are a one-stop shop to candle making:

A la Carte

Kits are great, but you can easily collect supplies to make candles a la carte. It gives you a lot more options for projects, allows you to make larger quantities, and can save you the convenience fee of buying a kit. The rest of this post is full of links to buy the equipment and supplies you might need to get you stocked up for candle making.

Candle Pitcher and Double Boiler

Equipment for Candle Making

Many of the materials that you need for candle making can be easily found in your kitchen or craft drawer. Luckily, these items are also very easy to acquire at thrift stores and inexpensively online because it?s best to dedicate the equipment to candle making. Wax, dye, and scent oil are difficult to remove completely from pots and jars, so set aside a stash of equipment just for candle making.

Wax for Candle Making

Wicks for Candle Making

Wicks come in many different materials and forms, from basic cotton on a roll to wired and waxed wicks with tabs. No matter which you choose, you need the right size (thickness) for your candle to burn properly. Wicks that are too small will not melt the wax all the way to the edge of the candle, creating a tunnel in the center. Wicks that are too large will create a lot of smoke. (Although both of the aforementioned situations are also used as techniques in projects in this book.) Look for labeling on the package of wicks to see what wax and diameter they are appropriate for.

Fragrance and Essential Oils

Fragrance oils offer the most consistent and reliable scent. They have been formulated to be heated to high temperatures and added to molten wax without evaporation. Fragrance oils also come in a wide-variety of lab-created scents like strawberry and green apple that are pleasing and not available as essential oils.

Essential oils are natural scents extracted from plants and they are sometimes better tolerated by people with scent sensitivities or allergies. Essential oils are used in aromatherapy with different healing effects (such as relaxation or focus) being ascribed to the aromatic diffusion.

Colour and Dyes

Coloring your candle can be done with liquid wax dye, solid wax dye, or crayons. Wax dye specifically formulated for candle making will give you the most even color and burn performance. Liquid wax dye is the easiest dye to use because it doesn?t need to be dissolved like solid dye does. Solid wax dye comes in blocks or chips that can be dissolved into melted wax to obtain the desired color.


Making container candles allows for a great deal of creativity because you can customize so many parts of the process: melting wax, adding color and fragrance, pouring it into a heatproof container, and adding a wick. If a container is in the appropriate shape to hold a candle, and it is made of a material that can withstand the heat of molten wax, then you can probably make a candle in it!

Wax Melts and Candle Warmers

In Home Candle Making, I show two methods for making natural wax melts using molds and wax warmers to release the scent.

Herbal Wax Melts

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Make & Give Home Candle Making

This book features 12 different artisan-inspired candle projects that can be easily replicated at home and are suitable for many different occasions. Once you are finished crafting each stunning candle, designer Stephanie Rose provides sweet gift-giving suggestions. Wouldn?t you rather make something that can be given as a gift than shop for something much less personal? Of course, you can always make one for yourself as well! So relax, and enjoy your new candle-making hobby.

Whether for shower or wedding favours, to celebrate a birthday, or just as a special token of friendship, a handmade candle is a heartfelt gift. You?ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to make absolutely gorgeous handcrafted candles that look like they came from a boutique.

Buy at , , , 

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