Spring is in full bloom, and soon your plants and shrubs will be too. To help them maintain a healthy and groomed appearance this year, it is important to cut back and prune your plant properly, and at the right time. While this task may seem daunting, with a few tips you should be feeling confident in your ability in no time! Here are some helpful pointers to help you master your pruning skills and have your lawn and garden looking great all summer long. 

Your Guide to Springtime Pruning: Making Your Plants and Shrubs Flourish 

With social distancing guidelines allowing garden centers to open their doors, many of us are eager to ring in the season of sun by spending time tending to our gardens. But before you start buying new plants, it is important to tend to the plants already taking up space in your garden. This could mean splitting plants that are too big, adding a layer of soil, or mapping out where new garden accessories, decor, or plants will be added in the coming weeks. While there are many things to tend to before adding in this season’s annuals, one important task that must be tackled in order to keep your garden healthy, happy, and well groomed is to prune, prune, prune. While many people have a vague idea about what pruning is, most do not know the full extent of what they are doing, why they are doing it, or if they are doing it right. To help ease your mind, here is a guide to pruning so that you can be a master in the field by the end of this bright and sunny spring season. 

What is Pruning?

In short, pruning is essentially removing any unwanted or dead parts of plants and shrubs, while controlling its growth. If it is easier, try thinking of it as a haircut: Over time, our hair becomes dry, damaged, and split; in order to maintain our hair health, we trim back the dead ends to maintain a healthier look and better hair growth. The same goes with pruning; We prune to remove the crossed, damaged, or diseased branches before they become stressful to the well being of the plant itself, and to allow it to co-exist with other plants in close proximity, and look its absolute best. 

What Are The Benefits of Pruning

Pruning may feel like a daunting task, but its benefits are abundant. As an essential part of the gardening process, it is important for both aesthetic appeal, and to encourage optimal plant health and rejuvenation. Once your plant exists in a controlled environment with other plants and shrubs, extra care is needed to allow for the space and freedom to flourish. Because pruning involves cutting out any dead or diseased branches, the process is beneficial for overall health and wellness of the plant or shrub. Additionally, by taking care of your plants and grooming them properly, you can maintain their compact and youthful appearance while increasing your curb appeal and turning some heads with your cared for and fully maintained lawn and garden. 

When to Prune

Pruning a shrub often depends on when that shrub produces blooms. A spring flowering shrub produces blooms on wood grown from the previous season, and should be pruned in late spring, after blooming. A summer or fall blooming shrub however, should be pruned back in early spring as to not interfere with its blooms, which are grown on wood during the current season. 

An exception to keep in mind when it comes to the timing of pruning is in regard to dead, damaged, and diseased branches, which should be cut off entirely to allow the plant to grow from a healthy wood. 

How to Prune

When it comes to how to prune your plant properly, there are a few rules of thumb that will help to guide you:

  • Remove diseased, dead or broken branches
  • Remove downward-growing branches
  • If branches are competing or entangled, remove one completely from the base.
  • Make sure your thinning cuts are close to where the branch meets the limb. 
  • Avoid tearing any bark

Pruning can make even experienced gardeners feel nervous if they are unfamiliar with the plant or shrub they are working with. If you are still unsure about how or when to prune a particular plant in your garden, look online, or ask a helpful body at your local nursery. Remember, each plant is different, but there is a world of knowledge out there to ensure you have what you need to make sure your plants flourish.

 Happy Pruning!