Before making the first cut on a plant, there must be an objective, a desired look one is aiming to achieve. So it stands to reason that it is necessary to know the species of plant to be pruned to preserve the plants natural growth habit and maximize the value of the plant within the landscape.
When properly maintaining ornamental trees and shrubs at a particular size, our goal is to reduce the size while allowing the plant to grow as nature intended. Making well placed cuts at the right time encourages a natural growth habit, which leads to better flowering, natural looking plants, and a longer lasting, appealing plant. Poorly timed pruning will reduce flower buds and may cause a flush of poorly structured growth, destroying the natural shape and structure of the plant. Sloppy pruning cuts, like leaving big nubs, or finishing a cut too flush to the stem will not heal properly creating a site for potential infection.
How can I tell that my trees and shrubs need pruning?
Generally speaking, routine pruning should begin two to three years after trees and shrubs are installed. Plants should be trained early and proper branching structure is promoted from the start. Unfortunately, this rarely happens and we are typically called in when trees become too big and planting beds become overcrowded.
Types of shrub pruning
: Overgrown plants and crowded planting beds can often be reclaimed. Renovation pruning can be done over several growing seasons to regain an aesthetically pleasing and balanced plant or collection of plants. With some plants, heavy renovation pruning can be accomplished in a single pruning session if the plant is healthy.
Hedge row pruning:
eeds vary depending on the species. When they begin to grow out of shape, pruning must be performed in a way that makes sure lower branches don't become shaded out and die, ruining the screening effect. Allowing sunlight to filter through the canopy of the hedge helps maintain its density throughout the entire hedgerow.
Routine shrub pruning:
one to maintain a plant at a certain height, shape, or sometimes a formal look such as seen with topiaries. It also involves removing dead wood and training a long lasting branching structure.
Shade and Ornamental Trees
When dealing with shade trees, much of the same philosophies apply when pruning but on a larger scale. Dead wood and long over extending limbs can be a potential hazard and an overly dense canopy can have an adverse effect on turf, roofing, or landscape plants underneath.
: Prune the tree of dead wood, crossing branches, poor branching structure, thin dense areas, damaged tree parts and raise low branches if needed.
Weight reduction pruning:
Done to reduce the risk of limb and branch failing. This work is done mostly on the outer ends of the tree canopy. Select limbs are pruned back to an appropriate growth point to better distribute weight of the canopy. Thinning is also done to keep the tree from catching the wind like a sail.
Pruning for clearance: Trees grow near or over structures, wires, driveway and smaller trees are trimmed to provide needed clearance.
Before the first cut - know you're objective, know your plant material, and make good pruning cuts. Most importantly, know when it's time to call in a qualified arborist or landscape professional.