DIY Shrub Pruning: Think you can master shear perfection?

You’ve got the tools, the time and you enjoy being outdoors. You’ve always thought of yourself as a DIY’er so why not try your hand at shrub pruning?

Before you get scissor-happy, think about the shrubs’ purpose in your landscape and make a plan. You’re going to want to consider the species, shape and size of the shrubs and decide if you’re removing dead, diseased or injured wood or just improving their aesthetic. 

First, gather your tools and make sure they’re sharp and clean! Pruning with dull and dirty equipment will do more harm to the plants than good. Improper cuts will create wounds that invite pests and disease.

You’ve got the proper equipment, now how do you make proper cuts?

There are two basic types of pruning cuts: heading cuts and thinning cuts. 

Heading cuts stimulate growth of buds closest to the wound. The direction in which the top remaining bud is pointing will determine the direction of new growth. Making heading cuts selectively to reduce shrub height and retain natural form. Non-selective heading cuts made indiscriminately will stimulate rapid regrowth from buds below the cut. These vigorous shoots are unattractive and make shrubs bushier, but not smaller. Non-selective heading cuts are only justifiable when using hedge clippers on an overgrown or topiary shaped shrub.

Thinning cuts remove branches at their points of origin or attachment. Used in moderation, thinning cuts reduce shrub density without stimulating regrowth.


Additional Tips:

  • Thin out denser areas of the plant to improve air circulation and discourage fungal diseases
  • Cut off new shoots as they appear to help keep plants symmetrical
  • If the shrub is infected with certain bacterial diseases, disinfect tools between each cut with rubbing alcohol 
  • For rejuvenation pruning, trim one third of the oldest stems at the base 

Does it all sound too daunting to DIY? Entrust pruning to the experts at SavATree. Professional shrub pruning can help you achieve strong, beautiful, sustainably healthy plants that are an asset to your property. 

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