Many shrubs naturally grow to sizes larger than the desired height and thus require pruning to maintain their desired size. Unfortunately, keeping shrubs maintained to these heights can lead to overly sheared "balls" like above. Part of this is due to the plant wanting to grow taller and part of it is due to the use of power hedge shears that all landscapers utilize to efficiently prune. In a perfect world, hedge shears would not be used and the "balls" above would not occur; but in reality, this is all too common.
 Corrective Pruning During the Winter
To correct this, we have adopted rejuvenation pruning to bring shrubs back to appropriate sizes. Sometimes this can be achieved by thinning pruning, but other times they need to be cut down to the ground and allowed to regrow at a shorter height with a more natural habit. The problem is that when we make the cutback, it looks like we killed the plants. Don't worry, however, as they always grow back and look much better throughout the season. This will occur annually on some shrubs, and on others every 2-3 years.
Again, this may appear drastic; but in our experience over the past few years of implementing this philosophy in our winter deciduous pruning practices, we are seeing healthier, more natural looking shrubs maintained at their desired height in the landscape. The most common deciduous plants we will be performing this practice on annually are: Barberry, Abelia, Spirea, Dogwood. Every 2-3 years: Willow, Hydrangea, Euonymus, and Forsythia.
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