Pruning is a crucial aspect of maintaining the health, size, and shape of trees and shrubs. When pruning, aim to retain the natural form of the plant, avoiding excessive shaping into a ball. Most plants have an inherent tendency to grow towards light and tend to be wider at the base than the top, which should be preserved. Timing of pruning is important, and it should be done in line with the plant’s growth cycle.
TREES – Trees typically require minimal pruning. Newly planted trees should have their lower branches elevated or pruned as they grow to encourage upward growth and natural shape. Remove any broken, dead, or diseased branches as needed. Winter is the best time to prune most trees when they are dormant before the sap starts flowing.
EVERGREEN SHRUBS – Evergreens can be trimmed at any time, but it’s usually best to do so in early summer after new growth has emerged. For flowering evergreens like Azaleas and Rhododendrons, pruning should be done immediately after flowering. Avoid pruning in late summer, as it may trigger new growth that may not survive winter.
DECIDUOUS SHRUBS – Deciduous shrubs should be pruned after flowering, as new growth provides next year’s flowers. Some older branches should be thinned to provide new wood for the plant’s future.
HEDGES – Hedges require regular pruning to maintain their shape, but most are trimmed incorrectly. The base should always be wider than the top to allow light to reach the bottom and keep the plant full at the base.
In conclusion, it’s essential to avoid over-pruning and maintain the natural form of your plantings. Using gas or electric hedge shears can save time, but they should be used carefully to retain the plant’s natural shape.