Pruning deciduous shrubs

Good Gardening


Last updated 3/19/2014 at 11:10am

This is the time of year to prune your shrubs that will bloom on this season’s growth. Generally these are shrubs which bloom after June. Some of these shrubs common in our landscapes are the Butterfly Bush, Spirea, Beauty Bush, and Snowberry.

The spring blooming shrubs bloom on last season’s growth. Minor corrective pruning can be done now. This can include removing dead wood and broken branches, branches that lay on the ground and suckers at the base of the shrub. After the shrub blooms you can do more detail pruning described below. Some of these shrubs common in our landscapes are Forsythia, Lilac, Daphne, Mockorange, Azalea and Rhododendron, Viburnum and Weigela.

In pruning your shrub, the goal is to thin, gradually renew and rejuvenate it while allowing the shrub to grow into its natural shape. Never round the shrub. Step back from your shrub a few feet and envision how you would like it to look when you are finished. Then dive in.

Get down on the ground with your head in the shrub and begin taking out any dead branches. Next remove the small suckers and take out a few of the older branches in favor of larger, healthy new branches. Make your cuts slightly above ground level.

Know when to stop. A good principle to keep in mind is to remove about one-third or less of the plant’s branches. Use hand pruning shears, loppers or a pruning saw when making the cuts. Avoid using electric trimmers as they will break or tear the twigs and jam up on larger twigs. Also, hand tools are quieter, allowing you to hear the birds sing as you work.

Now stand up and take another look at your shrub. You can now make a few cuts on the top to balance out the shrub.


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