The Right Time to Prune your Shrubs and Plants
Ask the Doctor –
Your Source For Lawn Care Tips
Kerry Tai - January 2, 2014

On some occasions, you might witness your neighbor trimming plants and shrubs from time to time. That neighbor is practicing landscape maintenance by regularly pruning his shrubs. By pruning your plants and shrubs, you can improve their overall appearance.

What is Pruning?

Pruning landscape plantings is a useful way to control growth and repair damage. Pruning simply means removing any dead materials such as branches or noticeable dead spots in the plant.

Here are some reasons to follow proper pruning practices:

  • To maintain an attractive, balanced shape.
  • To limit the plant's growth.  Some vigorously growing plants can become overgrown and unsightly with age.
  • To remove broken or disease damaged portions.
  • To promote stronger growth of desirable limbs.  For instance, plantings used in hedges may be topped off to promote fuller growth from the base.
  • To direct or correct the growth of shade trees.
  • To remove diseased or damaged tree limbs that may be a threat to people or property.

When is the Right Time to Prune?

Although pruning can be done all year long, there are certain seasons for pruning particular plants and shrubs. For major pruning projects, early spring season is the best time. Most flowering plants are pruned during dormancy. Flowering bushes should be pruned shortly after blooms fall.

If you fail to do this task, you can accidentally prune the new buds off and cause a decrease in the amount of flowers in your yard. For harsh weather conditions, be sure your plants are pruned away from damaged areas as soon as possible. Pruning should be done on dry days, when limbs and twigs are dry.

Will I Need Tools to Prune My Plants and Shrubs?

Yes! Pruning practices should always be done with the proper tools and equipment. Tools should always be clean and sharp. If a plant is infected, you must clean your tools to avoid transmitted diseases to yourself and to neighboring plants. Work carefully to avoid damaging surrounding bark tissue or opening unnecessarily large wound areas, which enable disease organisms and insects to enter your body.

The common pruning tools are shearers, saws, and hand pruners, but it is important to use the right tools for your plants and shrubs. Seek a local garden center to help identify the proper tools and sizing based on your plants and shrubs or ask your local Lawn Doctor for further assistance on pruning practices for your plantings.