In general, the best time for pruning shrubs is when they begin to look untidy. However, shrub pruning is ideally performed by our ISA Certified Arborists between late spring and late summer. Flowering shrubs happen to be an exception because timing has a crucial effect on the amount of flowers they will produce. Therefore, these shrubs should be pruned shortly after blooming, but before the buds are set for the following season.
Before beginning to prune shrubs, it’s important to consider which type of pruning will be both beneficial to the health of the shrub and aesthetically pleasing to you. In order to achieve the most beneficial results, it is important to follow proper shrub trimming techniques.
In this shrub trimming technique, branches are selectively removed at the base to open up the crown, maximize light penetration and prevent the shrub from growing too large for its surroundings. This type of shrub pruning is also performed to emphasize the larger stems and trunks if you are training your shrub to look like a small tree.
Branches are “headed” or cut back to the point where they are attached to another outward facing branch or bud. If you desire a formal look, trim back the new shoots by half in early summer to stimulate branching at the base. Then, in the fall, trim all new growth back by half again and begin shaping the shrub by tapering the sides and making the top flat or rounded.
Be careful not to get overzealous; shrub pruning can be done to excess, resulting in a loss of flowers and fruit formation. Prune only when there is a definite reason. By thinning out the oldest branches, heading back tall, leggy stems and cleaning up unproductive or dead wood, most shrubs can be maintained at the proper height and spread for many years.
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