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Pruning Trees and Shrubs for Spring

Homeowners often avoid pruning because of the fear of butchering their beloved trees and shrubs. However, pruning isn’t difficult and the reward is thicker foliage, more flowers and healthier plants.

Roses, hydrangeas, vines, shrubs and summer-flowering trees (like magnolias, crepe myrtles and dogwoods) need special attention in the spring. Pruning summer-flowering plants while they are still dormant makes it easy to see the plant’s structure. Remove damaged or crowded stems to optimize new growth in the summer.

Evergreens trees like holly, boxwood, and firethorn require very little pruning. If your evergreens need shaping up, work on them during the spring before their growth spurt. Look for stems with signs of winter damage. Take care not to aggressively shape your evergreens.

Ornamental grasses are categorized into two groups – evergreen and deciduous. Evergreens require touch-ups throughout the year. Deciduous grasses need a spring trim to look their best; now is the time to cut ornamental grasses as close to the ground as possible.

Perennials like butterfly or Russian sage look their best when not weighed down with faded flowers. Deadheading helps the bush produce another cycle of blooms. If the bush becomes too tall or thick, shear the branches back 6-12 inches from the ground. This trim helps the bush grow fuller and produce healthy new stems.

Lifeless stems attract insects and invite diseases to develop. Remove dead wood and diseased or damaged stems anytime you see them on your trees and shrubs.

Sensible pruning guarantees that trees and shrubs will remain healthy, safe and grow in an attractive shape. Don’t be afraid to make the cut.