Trimming Shrubs

by April Reinhardt
(last updated April 15, 2015)

Most people think that springtime is the best time to trim shrubs, but early summer is the proper time to trim shrubs. Just after spring, and prior to the very hot weather of summer, trim away the new growth. You most times can tell new growth from established foliage since the new growth is a bright green where evergreens are concerned. The best time to trim flowering shrubs is when the flowers die away, leaving new foliage growth. In order to remove dead branches, matted twigs, and promote new growth, it is best to trim shrubs at least once a year. Properly pruning and trimming a shrub is fairly easy to do. While some gardeners prefer to use power trimmers, others prefer manual scissor-action trimmers and pruning shears. Whatever tools you prefer to use, follow these guidelines when trimming your shrubs:

  • Before you begin, make sure that the blades of your tools are sharp. Dull blades can cause damage by crushing, instead of cutting, branches and foliage.
  • If you are unsure as to how to the proper time to trim your shrubs, check with your local gardening club or nursery for advice. Some things to consider before trimming are what zone you live in and what species of plant you have.
  • Always wear gardening gloves since some shrubs have thorny branches. Also, if you have many shrubs to trim, your hands can develop blisters from the continuous motion afforded by working with pruning shearers.
  • When working with mature shrubs, cut away about six inches of growth, and about half that for young shrubs. Cut branches at an angle, away from the buds on the branch.
  • Aggressive pruning is not recommended, as the plant sometimes will not rebound.
  • When trimming new growth, just trim from the top of the shrub. Leave new growth inside of the plant and gently sculpt the outside of the shrub.

The rule of thumb when trimming flowering shrubs is to trim within one month after they finish flowering. If you trim later in the season, you risk removing next year's blossoms. You can always remove dead branches any time of the year, however. An easy way to tell if a branch is dead is to scrape the wood with a knife or the edge of your shears blade. If the layer beneath is white or green, it is healthy. If it is black or brown, it is dead.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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