Guide To Pruning Shrubs (Tips and Techniques)

If the bushes in your garden or lawn are overgrown, then you need to prune them. But, before you attack your plantations arbitrarily, it’s a great idea to know about some of the basics about pruning shrubs.

Today’s detailed instruction will give you all the necessary information that will lead you in the right way.

Basic Guidelines For Pruning

Select the right tool: You can use a hand pruner, long-handled lopper, curved blade pruning saw or chainsaw depending upon the plantation. A hand pruner like JEOutdoors ZEM is good for branches up to ¾ inch diameter. To remove branches with a large diameter, you need a long-handled lopper similar to Xt 685.

To cut on a pull motion, you can also try the curved blade saw for pruning. A chainsaw is generally for professionals, but you can use it if you are experienced enough or you own a significant garden. No matter which tool you use, it should be sharp and washed with your mouthwash or alcohol.

Time is important: If you want minimal damage and maximum growth, then spring (March, April, May) are the best months to prune. We don’t recommend heavy pruning in January and February, because these are the months when plants are low on energy.

Prune the flowering species early spring as soon as the growth starts. Pruning at this point will give them plenty of time to grow. Some of the new wood plants that need late winter or early spring include roses, panicled hydrangea, butterfly bush, and nandina. However, when you notice dead limbs and branches, you can remove them at any time of the year.

On the other hand, there are old wood plants that shoot flowers on their existing branches that were created over the years of growth. These flowers grow early in the spring season; hence you can prune them immediately after they fall. You should not wait for a long time, otherwise, the plants will not be able to recover the next bloom. Some of these plants include Witch hazel, Flowering quince, Forsythia, and Lilac.

Remove the entire branch or limb: Always cut an entire branch from its trunk or above the bud. This maintains the natural growth of any plant or tree. So, never cut branches to leave stubs behind. Pruning and leaving the stubs will invite pests and eventually the tree will decay.

Pruning Deciduous Shrubs

If you are maintaining deciduous shrubs, then you will follow two types of pruning techniques: heading and thinning. When you remove excess branches, it’s called thinning. It allows air and sunlight to reach internal parts of the shrubs and also controls overgrowth.

The heading is when you control the way a plantation is growing because it refocuses the growth in a different direction. Heading also encourages the redistribution of nutrients inside the plants that results in better and healthy growth.

Apply thinning on shrubs that need some maintenance. It will remove all the deadwood, including contaminated branches without disturbing the overall growth. Depending upon the diameter of the plantation, you can use pruner, lopper or saw. Angle the cut to some extent, so that the node cannot draw water from its main branch and hence dry out. The best time for thinning is late winter before the start of spring growth.

Unless using a hedge trimmer, you should be selective about the heading process. It stimulates better growth, so if you will cut all the branches following the same pattern, the deciduous shrubs will grow out of control.

Other Pruning Techniques

Apart from thinning and heading, other pruning techniques can boost the health and beauty of the shrubs. Depending upon the habit of a shrub, you can choose one of the following methods.

Renewal: Suitable for cane style shrubs, wherein multiple canes grow upwards from the same stem. You need to do the renewal pruning once every three to four years and you need to remove 1/3rd of the stems each time. Following this process ensure vigorous growth in shrubs and better flowing in case you are fond of ornamental flowers. Forsythia and roses are the best examples of cane styled shrubs.

Rejuvenation: Do you have some old and neglected shrubs that have seen better days? Give them the rejuvenation they need by pruning all their canes or stems to the ground level. They will grow new, but prune them in the early sprint of late winter. Shrubs that respond best to such running are forsythia, privet, spirea, weigela, honeysuckle and hydrangea.

Shearing: When you need a hedge to fulfill particular shapes, you should follow the shearing method to prune them. Keep the top of all the shrubs narrower than their bottom, so that the appropriate amount of sunlight can reach the lower part. You can follow shearing when growth is fully complete.

Mounding style: If you need to prune thin shrubs that grow from a common center, then you need to cut the branches within the mound. Remove the long branches first and slowly take out 1/3rd of their mass without damaging the plantation. Spirea and Azalea are the two shrub examples that you can maintain with this pruning style.

Pruning Coniferous Shrubs

Conifers seek minimal maintenance and it’s the reason they evolve in areas with low rainfall, extreme temperatures and poor soil conditions. They are rugged plants, but if you neglect them, coniferous shrubs can thrive. The best solution is periodic pruning, which you need to complete very carefully because such shrubs don’t recover well from pruning as the deciduous do. So, think twice before you prune one of their branches.

Start by removing the lower branches that you will find almost dead because they don’t receive much sunlight to grow. Apart from them, you should also remove the other dead, diseased, or defamed branches. If you notice multiple double leaders that would look like forked branches, then remove them as well.

The best time to prune coniferous shrubs is during late spring. Keep in mind that you only have to prune the new growth. If you will cut the old wood, then it will never produce new branches. Do not hard prune these shrubs, otherwise, they will not recover.

If you cut the branches back to the stem, then they might not grow at all. Keep in mind that conifers do not adapt pruning like other shrubs. So, before you prune any of their branches, there has to be a purpose or some chances of maintenance.

Why prune?

If you prune correctly, the shrubs and trees will be healthy and attractive. Yes, it’s obvious because you are removing all the diseased branches and deadwood.

Some of the trees and shrubs demand regular pruning for better growth and a high number of fruits or flowers. Apart from that, you can change the shape and design of shrubs that can suit the house or other plants of your garden.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *