Do you have bushes or shrubs in your landscaping that need to be cleaned up and wonder where to start? This simple guide on how to prune and shape the shrubs and bushes in your garden will help make it easier to maintain your plants.
Why is it important?
Garden shrubs and bushes are an important part of any landscape design, providing beauty, privacy, and shade. If left unpruned and unshaped, these plants can become overgrown, unhealthy, and unattractive leading to a poor landscape and even complaints to the city or HOA.
Regularly pruning can help to maintain their health and appearance. Regular pruning and shaping can also encourage new growth, improve the plant’s overall shape, and promote blooming.
Types of Pruning
There are several different types of pruning. The type you will use will depend upon the plant and the reason you are pruning. From simply shaping your shrubs for decorative reasons to helping encourage blooms or clear away rotting vegetation, there are many factors in pruning your shrubs and bushes.
Regular pruning is the routine maintenance of garden shrubs and bushes. This type of pruning is done to remove dead, diseased, or damaged wood and to control the size and shape of the plant.
Regular pruning is done at the end of the growing season, before new growth begins, and can be part of your winter preparations for your garden. If your plant is showing signs of health issues and you want to try and save it avoid doing this right before the cold moves in, as you may inadvertently kill off your plant instead.
Renewal pruning is the process of removing a significant amount of old wood from a shrub or bush to encourage new growth. This is important if you are wanting your plant to bush out more.
Renewal pruning is typically done on older shrubs or bushes that have become overgrown or have not been pruned in several years and need a bit of help to become fuller and healthy again. If you want more blooms in flowering shrubs, this is where you can put your focus.
This type of pruning is usually done in the early spring before new growth begins to encourage growth where they have been cut. It’s important to be careful when performing renewal pruning as it can be stressful to the plant and should be done in stages to avoid harm.
Structural pruning is the process of training a shrub or bush to grow in a specific shape or form. This type of pruning is done to create a desired shape or form, such as a hedge or topiary.
Structural pruning is typically done in the early spring before new growth begins or later in the season to tidy up a fast-growing bush or shrub. It’s important to be patient when performing structural pruning, as it may take several years to achieve the desired shape.
Tools and techniques for pruning shrubs and bushes
When pruning and shaping garden shrubs and bushes, it’s important to use the right tools. Some common tools used for pruning include hand pruners, loppers, and hedge shears.
Hand pruners are great for small branches and twigs, while loppers are better for thicker branches. Hedge shears are perfect for shaping hedges and topiaries.
It’s important to sharpen and clean your tools regularly to ensure they make clean cuts and don’t damage the plant or introduce disease.
When pruning, it’s important to use proper techniques. Always make cuts at a slight angle, just above a bud or a leaf node. This will encourage new growth to sprout from the cut. Avoid making flush cuts, as this can damage the plant and make it vulnerable to disease.
Specific Techniques for Different Types of Shrubs and Bushes
Evergreens: Evergreens should be pruned in the late winter or early spring before new growth begins. When pruning evergreens, it’s important to maintain their natural shape for the best look and to prevent shocking your evergreen. Be sure to remove any damaged or diseased wood.
Deciduous Shrubs: Deciduous shrubs should be pruned in the late winter or early spring before new growth begins. When pruning deciduous shrubs, it’s important to remove any damaged or diseased wood and to shape the plant to encourage new growth that fits the needs of the area you are growing.
Flowering Shrubs: Flowering shrubs should be pruned immediately after they have finished blooming. When pruning flowering shrubs, it’s important to remove any damaged or diseased wood and to shape the plant to encourage new growth. This helps to increase the number of blooms you get from your shrubs in the following year while giving your shrubs time to heal from the cut before winter.
Use the right tools: Make sure you have the proper tools for the job. Hand pruners, loppers, and hedge shears are all useful tools for pruning shrubs and bushes. You can get powered versions to make it easier to care for your plants should you have a hard time using these tools.
Prune at the right time: The best time to prune shrubs and bushes is during their dormant season, usually late winter or early spring before new growth begins. If you prune too much during an active phase, you can shock your plant.
Maintain natural shape: When pruning, try to maintain the natural shape of the plant as much as possible. This will help the plant look more natural and can encourage new growth.
Remove damaged or diseased wood: Be sure to remove any damaged or diseased wood as soon as you see it. This will help to prevent the spread of disease and pests and increase airflow to the center of the plant at the same time.
Cut above a bud or leaf node: When making cuts, always cut just above a bud or leaf node to encourage new growth. If you cut below the bud or node, you will be cutting off the part that produces new growth.
Don’t over-prune: Over-pruning can stress the plant and make it vulnerable to disease. Prune gradually over several years if needed. If you prune too much, you can leave the plant unable to produce enough energy to sustain itself in the following season.
Be patient: When shaping or training a shrub or bush into a specific form or shape, be patient, as it may take several years to achieve the desired shape for larger plants.
Always clean your tools: If you do not clean your tools between plants while pruning and shaping, you can spread germs and diseases or even pests from one plant to the next, killing off much of your landscaping.