Late summer is an ideal time for maintenance pruning most shrubs and foundation plantings. Generally, the goals of shrub pruning is to maintain size and prevent plants from outgrowing their space, all while promoting a natural and contained appearance. Because most woody plants have completed their shoot growth, late summer through early fall are perfect seasons for shrub pruning. Pruning during this time additionally helps to keep plants attractive throughout the following year.
Natural pruning is the process of removing long branches, at their point of origin, inside the canopy of the plant. This not only reduces the shrub size, but more importantly allows light to penetrate into the plant canopy and promotes interior sprouting. When carefully tended, the resulting interior growth becomes the new crown in future years. This philosophy is quite similar to the techniques our arborists employ when structurally pruning large shade trees.
Although more time consuming than shearing (the shortening of branches along one plane), natural pruning has many benefits and can be more economical over time. When all pruning cuts are made along one plane, the resulting growth sprouts from these points creating a veneer of foliage. This promotes dense exterior canopy and prevents sunlight from penetrating inside plant, resulting in the plant growing larger, increasing in size and eventually out growing its space. Sheared plants cannot be easily reduced because the interior of the plant has little or no live growth because.
We have found that most people prefer a more natural approach to shrub pruning shrubs encouraging an aesthetically pleasing appearance and consistent flowering. As arborists, we see other benefits such as healthier, more robust plants, which are often less prone to insect and disease problems. Additionally, shrubs planted in the right location and naturally pruned, have a longer useful life, eliminating the hassle and expense of removing and replacing overgrown unsightly foundation plants.
Talk to a BTSE arborist to discuss natural hand pruning and the benefits to your plants and property.