Shrub Trimming Tips

  • Recommended tools and equipment for the work include tarps, blowers, ladders, hand pruners, shears and saws, electric or gasoline powered shears and saws, rakes and fuel for the blowers and other gasoline powered tools. Be sure trimmers are sharp and in working order. Have a plan for debris disposal.
  • Some shrubs only need trimming once a season, others may need attention 2 or 3 times, especially formally sheared shrubs and hedges.
  • Identify the plants you are trimming. Look at how the plant material has been trimmed in the past. Unless you desire to change to either formal shearing or informal hand pruning it is simplest to continue to maintain the shrubs in the same manner as they have been trimmed in the past.
  • Determine your purpose in trimming – examples include basic maintenance, rejuvenation, structural, for better flowering, containment in size, etc.
  • Spring flowering plants such as lilacs should be pruned after flowering.
  • Wear ear protection when using gasoline powered trimming shears, chains saws and blowers. Do not refuel on lawn or driveways.
  • Before beginning check plants for the presence of stinging insects such as hornets, wasps or bees. It’s much better to find them before they find you.
  • While you are at it, pull any unsightly weeds in the shrub border or foundation plantings.
  • When shearing move slowly with the shears at full rpm. Do not be afraid to cut back plants fairly hard, but at the same time avoid cutting back into bare wood.
  • Rounded shrubs and hedges are easier to accomplish than straight lines and are preferable unless your heart is set on a very formal look.
  • Hedges should be trimmed and trained to be narrower at the top so that sunlight can reach the bottom of the plant as well.
  • Take the time to occasionally step back to be sure you are producing a pleasing appearance with your trimming.
  • It is critical to remove trimmings from the shrubs. Otherwise the trimmings left on evergreens will turn brown within a week’s time and look very unsightly.
  • Trimming by hand with pruners and a folding saw can be very pleasing for deciduous shrubs and evergreens when a natural and informal appearance is desired.
  • Thinning cuts remove branches inside the shrub or ornamental. If all you do with hand shears is cut everything at the same place around the outside, you might as well use shears – it would be a lot quicker. Often a number of stems of a deciduous shrub can be removed completely right at ground level.
  • Some deciduous shrubs can be rejuvenated by cutting some or all of the stems right back to the ground. This is best done early in the season.

 

 

 

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