Blackbirds nesting in your hedges? When to prune and when NOT to prune

Having birds and other wildlife in the garden is a great feeling, and it helps us re-connect a bit more with nature. This can, however, pose a challenge for keen gardeners who love their gardens and the wildlife - but also want the garden to look nice.

The risks to wildlife

Whether it’s clearing up leaves, pruning bushes or removing deadwood, there is always a risk of unsettling the habitat of an animal such as a hedgehog hibernating or a bird nesting with its chicks.

We always advise our customers to check the area first before working on it with equipment such as hedge trimmers or strimmers.

Blackbirds: What you need to know

If you are thinking of pruning a bush or hedge then there is always a risk of Blackbirds nesting in it, so it’s important to find the right time to do your pruning.

The breeding season for Blackbirds typically starts around March and will continue until the end of July or early August. During this time, a nest might have 2-3 (and occasionally 4) broods in it.

It’s recommended that you don’t prune or trim bushes during the nesting season and if you do find a blackbird nesting in a bush, then leave the bush alone, regardless of what the time of year is.

According to the Arboricultural Association, it’s best to avoid pruning from February until August to cover other species of birds that nest earlier. Here’s wording from the Arboricultural Association website*:

‘The ‘Bird Nesting Season’ is officially from February until August and it is recommended that vegetation works (tree or hedge cutting) or site clearance should be done outside of the nesting season. However, in reality the nesting period may start before this and extend beyond it, in some cases. The busiest time for nesting birds is from 1st March until 31st July and of course varies according to species, etc.

What should you do if you disturb a nest?

If you have disturbed the nest of a Blackbird then turn off your strimmer or hedge trimmer and move away. It’s important to leave the nest alone and let the mother bird continue her job of protecting her eggs.

If you have caused a disturbance but still need to work in the surrounding area then it’s recommended to wait a while before going back, so that the Blackbirds can settle again. Now would be a good opportunity to put your strimmer battery on charge and have a break, or work in another area of the garden.

Note: It is an offence under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 to intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built.

No matter how keen you are to complete the pruning, it’s important to resist - not just because it could risk breaking the law, but because it’s the right thing to do to help wildlife to survive and flourish.


Need more Pruning tips and advice?

If you have questions about caring for wildlife in your garden then get in touch. We are happy to chat over the phone or, if you are due some hedge trimmer servicing, then book a service with us and ask us any questions while you are here!

See more information on buying hedge trimmers and other equipment for cutting and pruning hedges online.


Get in touch with our garden machinery shop - call us on 01249 652 573