Pruning garden shrubs can be a daunting task if you do not
know how. How to prune your shrubs,
with listings of all popular shrubs with information and advice
on how to
do in a methodical and
practical manner. This guide takes you through step by
Our A-Z Easy Shrub Pruning Guide
Most shrubs do not actually 'need' pruning! (Now that's a pretty good way to start a feature on how to prune shrubs and pruning: I will now bid you farewell and let you get on with it!)
But, many shrubs are planted in the wrong situation - in relation to size and position, so pruning becomes necessary.
Add to that, the fact that we are usually more concerned with having the maximum amount of flower/foliage/stem growth, than we are with the shrub's feelings, then the need for us to prune our shrubs overrides the desire of our shrubs to be pruned! As well as 'how to prune' there is another very important aspect, which is when to prune shrubs.
If you prune a shrub down to - or near to ground level, it will send up vigorous growth to the same height (normally) during a single growing season! When you want long 'canes' of new growth - as in the case of some Cornus (Dogwoods) - this is great. (On the other hand, if you are a bit of a 'snipper' at the ends of twigs, then you will end up with rather weak insignificant growth - similar to that which you have 'nibbled at'.)
All of that having been said, it is also true that young vigorous growth, is more likely to have more prolific flowers and foliage (and stem colour) than older growth. (A bit like us humans really I suppose!)
The guide on how to prune shrubs and shrub pruning is simple to use. You will find most of the shrubs which we require to prune on an annual basis listed, together with a section on pruning for special effects!
If you cannot find the shrub that you are looking for, then please let us know and we will try to add it into our feature. In any event we will reply to you with your own personal pruning appraisal. How's that for service?
Before starting any pruning, please ensure that you have a good, sharp pair of secateurs. (The 'By-pass' type is probably best for general use - rather than the 'anvil type').
Shrubs that flower before midsummer usually bloom on growth made the previous year. They are normally pruned after flowering (early summer), so that new growth has a full season in which to ripen before blooming the following year. Forsythia and Philadelphus are typical of this group. It is important to know how to prune these shrubs.
Shrubs that bloom after midsummer, have flowers on the current season's growth; these are pruned in winter or spring. They then flower later in the season on new growth. (HT and floribunda roses are typical of this group)
Evergreen Shrubs are best pruned in mid-spring, so that young shoots will develop after the danger of frost has passed.
Most old shrubs can be rejuvenated by cutting back hard to 30-45cm from the ground. To be doubly safe, it would be better to cut down around 50% in year one (sending up loads of new growth) and then cut down the remainder in year 2.