Trim your shrubs the right way!

Monday, April 11, 2011
By Sara Moore

Spring is in full bloom and now is the time to get your shrubs in shape. Expert gardener Carol Chernega says, “Instead of giving your shrubs a bad haircut, it’s actually very simple to give them a day at the spa, instead.” Here are her tips for getting it right and making your neighbors envious.

Know What You’re Pruning
Carefully look at your garden and identify what you’re going to be pruning. Use the internet to identify them if you don’t already know. You want to learn how the shrub should look so you can prune it to maintain its natural shape.

Cut Back to the Branch
Always cut back to a bud or branching point. Never leave a long stub. A stub will look ugly and it also invites insects and diseases that may cause long term problems.

Cut the Dead Weight First
Cut out the dead or broken branches before you cut anything else. Sometimes removing a dead branch will leave a big gap, so by doing these first, you’ll be able to tailor the rest of your pruning to compensate for that gap.

Cutleaf maple before and after trimming

Crossing Over
After eliminating the dead branches, target crossing branches or branches that are likely to cross in the future. Once they start rubbing against each other, they’ll leave a wound that will invite insects and disease, so you want to eliminate this threat.

Cut With the Flow
Finally, cut out all branches that are not going in the natural direction of the plant. This is good for the health of the plant, as well as the look of your garden.

Carol Chernega has worked as a professional gardener since 1992 and was the first International Visitor for the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) which allowed her to work for two months in Jane Austen’s garden in Chawton, England. You can learn more about her pruning techniques from her DVD Pruning Shrubs with Your Personal Gardener.

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