When can you cut hedges?

Our guide will show you how to perform healthy hedge maintenance in accordance with legal regulations and tell you when and to what extent you can cut hedges.

A woman wearing safety glasses and gloves trims a hedge with a STIHL hedge trimmer
A healthy, even hedge requires regular trimming.

Overview: When are you allowed to cut hedges?

  • The German Federal Nature Conservation Act regulates when hedges may be cut

  • Radical pruning is prohibited from 1 March for animal protection reasons

  • Only light maintenance trimming is permitted between 1 March and 30 September

  • If birds are nesting in the hedge, trimming of any kind is completely prohibited

  • Anyone who radically cuts back a hedge in contravention of the ban risks being fined

  • However, the responsible municipality may grant exemptions

  • Healthy hedge maintenance can be achieved in accordance with the regulations

Brown-feathered songbird with young in a nest

Hedge trimming is regulated by law in order to protect birds.

Since 2010, the German Federal Nature Conservation Act has regulated the protection of wildlife habitats for the Federal Republic of Germany and as such also specifies the period when hedges may be trimmed. 

Paragraph 39(5) of the Act bans trimming plants at certain times of the year for the purposes of animal and bird protection. This is relevant to various plants including hedges, bushes and other shrubs.

When can you cut hedges to avoid nesting birds?

In particular, bird protection applies during the nesting and breeding season of birds. Under German law, this officially starts on 1 March. In order not to disturb the animals during nesting or breeding, the ban on pruning applies from 1 March up to and including 30 September. During this period, radically pruning back hedge plants or cutting them back to the trunk is prohibited in Germany.


Only light maintenance cuts to remove annual growth are permitted, and then only provided that no birds are nesting in the hedge. The NABU Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union recommends that even these maintenance cuts should not be carried out during the main breeding season between March and June.

When can you cut hedges?

When you can actually trim a hedge depends on the type of trimming you are planning. Below we explain what type of trimming is permitted and when, and what penalties may be imposed in the event of violations.

When is the best time to trim hedges?

You can carry out more extensive work from October onwards, while gentle cutting and trimming will keep your hedge healthy from March onwards – this is what the Federal Nature Conservation Act specifies. For optimal care, healthy growth and strong shoots, the ideal time for trimming depends on the type of hedge plants you have.

Dense green thuja hedge framing an entrance gate

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A man wearing a helmet and gloves trimming a beech hedge with a hedge trimmer

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Woman wearing safety glasses and gloves trimming cherry laurel hedge with a hedge trimmer

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