When a more natural shape is desired, shrubs are generally thinned. Older or excessively long branches and weaker secondary branches are removed down to a main branch or to the base of the plant. This allows room for younger branches to grow to their best advantage. Thinning is usually the preferred method for spring-flowering shrubs (those that bloom on old wood) and is done after the year's flowers have faded.


Even nicely formed shrubs may need pruning. If left on their own, some flowering shrubs will bloom heavily only one year out of every two because much of their energy will go into seed production. Unless the plant is also grown for either the edible or decorative nature of its fruit, it should also be deadheaded (pruning flower stalks off at their base). This will prevent seed formation and encourage better bloom. This is most often done with Ericaceous plants such as rhododendrons, azaleas, and mountain laurels.

Vines should be treated like shrubs. Those blooming on old wood (spring bloomers) should be pruned back after blooming, and those blooming on new wood (summer or fall bloomers) should be pruned back in late winter or early spring. Vines grown for their foliage often produce overly exuberant growth and need to be pruned regularly. They can be pruned back any time except late summer or early fall; pruning at that time of year can result in new growth that doesn't harden properly.

Large branches require a pruning saw and should be removed back to the trunk or a main branch. Cut neatly down to the collar (the ring of growth where one branch joins the trunk or another branch) without wounding it. Do not leave a stub, or the healing process will be long. For major branches, use the 3-cut method. Do not apply tree paint to wounds. Always sterilize pruning tools by dipping them in rubbing alcohol or other disinfectant between cuts. In most cases, major pruning on a large tree should be left to a professional arborist.

Special Effectsprune5

ost pruning and training is done strictly on a utilitarian basis: just enough to produce a healthy, attractive tree, shrub, or vine. But pruning can also be artistic, actually changing the shape of the plant according to human whim. Which type of pruning you prefer depends on your tastes. If you enjoy experimenting, you might want to try some ornamental pruning techniques.

Hedging is the most common form of ornamental pruning. Shrubs or small trees, often evergreens, are planted closely together--only one to two feet apart -- forming a wall or screen.

Informal hedges, usually planted with flowering shrubs, are the easiest to maintain; thin occasionally so new, healthy growth is produced. Formal hedges are trimmed into geometric shapes and require frequent shearing, often up to four times a year (less for conifers). The base of the hedge should be wider than the top, or the lower branches will be shaded out and die.

pruning6Topiaries take pruning one step further, turning shrubs into living sculptures. The plants can be pruned into animal shapes, geometric forms, or anything you want. Slow-growing but dense evergreen shrubs are the best choices for topiary.

Pleaching is accomplished by weaving and pruning trees and shrubs to form an arched tunnel. Two rows are planted with a wide path between them. When the plants reach the desired height, the tops are bent and woven together. This technique is usually applied on large estates.

Pollarding involves severely cutting branches back to the same point each year, usually on a large tree, forming pom-pom growths on the ends of thick branches. This technique has never been popular in North America, although it is widespread in continental Europe. Trees to be used for pollarding should be chosen with care since few species can survive such harsh pruning for long periods.

Espalier involves pruning small trees and shrubs into a two-pruning8dimensional form, usually against a wall or trellis. It can be geometric or free-form. Espalier can be used to give a formal look to your garden or, by training trees and shrubs up a south wall, to allow tender plants to grow in a hostile climate. Firethorn and fruit trees are frequent subjects for espalier.

pruningbHow To Prune

Small branches can be pruned with pruning shears. Cut back to just 1/4-inch above a healthy side bud, at a 45° angle.




We specialize in the following pruning:

- All species of shade trees and shrubs (large or small, we prune them all)

- Apple tree pruning

- Fruit tree pruning

- Elm tree pruning (October 1 - March 31 only)

- Conifer (spruce & pine) shaping

- Hedge shaping