The Basics: Year 0
The important thing is to remove the leaf buds at the end of the stems - you don't need to cut them back hard.
In both cases, if you are planting a small hedgerow, you can do this with shears or secateurs, paying careful attention to how much you take off. If you have a long row to do, there is no harm in using electric shears and aiming to take off 2-4 inches from each stem.
You can browse all of the beech plants for sale that we grow here.
Year 1: While your beech hedge is growing, it's best to trim it in winter.
One light cut, just nipping off the ends of the new growth is all it needs.
Year 2: Now the hedge is really established, it should grow much faster: you can give it one very light clipping in midsummer and then another in winter.
Until it reaches the desired height:
Your beech should now be really bushy.
A light clip in winter is all it needs: you can go easy on the tops to help your hedge gain height quickly.
If you aren't happy with how bushy it is, give it a light trim in summer too.
When your hedge reaches its full height, it's time to change to summer clipping.
Why do I have to trim my Beech?
We hear this question a lot!
Here is the detailed reason: A hedge is an unnatural (but not at all unhealthy) way to grow trees.
When you plant trees close together they will compete for light by growing straight up.
You can see this effect when you compare a beech tree in a dense wood to one standing alone in a park:
A hedge is similar to a wood - the plants are competing with their close neighbours and they want to grow straight and tall. This is not what you want for a good looking hedge!
By trimming your new beech hedge plants early and often, you are forcing them to branch out. The more side branches there are, the more leaves you get and the nicer your hedge looks.