Many at-home gardeners want to be able to take care of their shrubs and hedges on their own. Not everyone however has a green thumb. Often at GreenPro we have clients ask us how they can best care for their shrubs and hedges and get the proper shape, size, and height. We always say that just a few proper trimming techniques will keep shrubs and hedges healthy and liven up your entire property. Here’s what you need to know.
Timing Is Everything
When focusing on trimming, it’s important to be mindful of what types of plants you’re looking to prune, and when, since the type of plant will often define the best time to prune it.
The best time to trim early-spring-flowering shrubs, for example, is right after they bloom, while summer-flowering plants should be clipped in winter or early spring. Non-flowering plants are best trimmed after new growth has completely formed. You can do light trimming throughout the year, but pay attention to these particular seasons as they will mean the difference between pruning at the right time…or the wrong one. (Hard to believe, but it makes a difference!)
When it comes to trimming methods, there are some principles that work in general for all shrubs when it comes to trimming, and then some specific needs that different plants and shrubs will require.
(Before you start, it’s valuable to lay a tarp down to make cleanup easier.)
It’s good to start by removing any undesired overgrowth, then thinning out spots of thick outer cover. The inner limbs need air and sunlight, so cut back along the branch just above new growth or at the plant base (when doing this, avoid electric trimmers). Trimming just the top of the shrub encourages new growth near the cut; cutting farther back will encourage growth along the limb.
Damaged, dead, or diseased stems can be a nuisance to shrubs and plants as they attract insects. These stems should be removed as soon as you see them.
Lastly, having focused on the top and outer cover, it’s important to pay attention to the base, removing any dead limbs. If possible, avoid making the top of the shrub wider than the base — you want sunlight to reach the entire plant. Cut only about 1/3 of the shrub each year. The holes you’re creating will fill in with new growth, making the plant fuller and stronger.
Formal Shrub Pruning
Many homeowners like having shrubs cut along straight lines, with fine edges. To achieve this look, you can use your house, siding or other objects as a guide. (Some pros use stakes and strings.) Set them up along the hedges but not too deep into the cover. Really want perfection? Break out a level for the cleanest possible line.
When pruning mature, overgrown shrubs, remove the thickest branches first. Cut them back to the base of the shrub to promote new growth.
It’s important to use the proper tools in order to achieve the desired effect. Hand pruners are useful for smaller branches. Some can handle diameters up to an inch, but long-handled loppers give you leverage to cut branches 1 to 2 inches in diameter. A hedge trimmer with extended reach and a pivoting cutting head simplifies trimming tall hedges and shrubs as well as hard-to-reach areas of the plant. Some string trimmers accept hedge trimmer attachments with this functionality.
Cut with the branch deep in the jaws of the pruner or lopper. This technique gives you greater force to make the cut. Cut as cleanly as possible to promote quicker healing.
Lastly, given that Oklahoma gets snow on a regular basis throughout the winter, you should consider creating a rounded top on your hedges and shrubs to reduce heavy snow accumulation.
These are just a few tips from GreenPro when it comes to achieving the best look possible for your property. Again, while it can be tempting to do this kind of work yourself, there’s no substitute for hiring a professional. GreenPro’s expert associates are able to manage your shrubs, hedges, and trees. We’re happy to handle your trimming and maintenance. Interested? Give us a call – we’d love to help!