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Keep Your Shrubs in Check: A Guide to Winter Pruning

As spring approaches and new growth emerges, you look out on your landscape with a critical eye. After a long winter, your shrubs appear overgrown and unruly. Don't fret! Proper winter pruning can restore order by controlling size and shaping overgrown shrubs into neatly manicured hedges. Strategic cuts now set the stage for healthy new growth and esthetically pleasing structure. Read on to learn winter pruning basics from the experts at Rosemont Landscape Company, trusted providers of full-service landscaping in the community for over 20 years. With their tips, you'll have your shrubs in check and your landscape looking its best in no time.

Pruning shrubs and trees

Why Winter Is the Best Time for Pruning Shrubs

Winter pruning provides several benefits for the health and appearance of shrubs. 

First, pruning in the dormant season allows you to see the bare structure of branches clearly without foliage obstructing your view. This makes it easier to identify dead or damaged branches that need removal.

Secondly, pruning stimulates new growth. Removing older branches opens up the shrub’s canopy and allows light to penetrate, which in turn activates growth hormones. The shrub will direct its energy into producing new shoots and foliage to fill in the open areas. 

Finally, pruning shrubs in winter can help rejuvenate old or overgrown plants by reducing their size. If left unpruned for several years, many shrubs can become sparse, woody, and unattractive. Strategic pruning, such as cutting branches back to lateral buds, will generate full, compact new growth and restore the shrub’s natural shape. For the best results, never remove more than one-third of the shrub’s branches at a time.

While pruning in winter when shrubs are dormant may seem counterintuitive, it is actually the healthiest time for plants. Pruning stimulates growth, so by the time spring arrives, your shrubs will be poised to burst with new foliage. A few hours of pruning this winter can revitalize your landscape for the entire growing season. For professional advice on strategic shrub pruning in your garden, contact the experts at Rosemont Landscaping.

Pruning shrubs and trees

Strategic Winter Pruning for Shaping and Controlling Size

Pruning for Form and Function

Winter is an ideal time to prune shrubs for shaping and controlling their size. Pruning at this time allows you to see the overall form and structure of the shrubs, without the distraction of foliage. You can prune shrubs strategically by removing select branches to open up their centers, thinning out stems to improve air circulation, and trimming them to the desired size and shape. This type of pruning will enhance the beauty and health of shrubs in your landscape.

Maintaining the Right Scale

It is important to prune shrubs to suit the scale of your garden. Overgrown shrubs that have outgrown their space can make a garden feel unorganized and chaotic. By pruning shrubs back, you can bring them into better proportion with surrounding plants and hardscape. As an example, pruning a row of shrubs lining a walkway will ensure that they do not overhang the path, and that there is sufficient light for any plants beneath them.

Improved Accessibility

Strategic pruning also improves access into and through your garden. Trimming back shrubs around pathways and entryways will open up access and make a garden more inviting. Pruning dense shrubs in heavily planted areas allows for easier movement within the garden when doing maintenance or enjoying the space. For recommendations specific to your garden, consider consulting a professional landscaping company such as Rosemont Landscape Contractors.

In summary, winter pruning plays an important role in maintaining shrubs at the proper scale for your garden. It opens up dense plantings, improves air circulation and light, and enhances the health, beauty and accessibility of your outdoor space. With some strategic trimming, you can bring order and organization to your garden for the season ahead.

Pruning shrubs and trees

What Shrubs to Prune in Winter vs Spring

It is crucial to prune shrubs at the appropriate time of year to maintain their health and structure. Some shrubs should be pruned in late winter, before new growth starts in spring. Others should be pruned after flowering to avoid removing buds.

Evergreen shrubs

Evergreen shrubs, such as boxwood, holly, and yew, should be pruned in late winter or early spring. Pruning evergreens in winter allows you to see their shape clearly without foliage obscuring the branches. It also minimizes sap loss since cuts heal quickly in spring. Prune evergreens to shape them and remove any dead or crossing branches.

Spring-flowering shrubs

Shrubs that bloom in spring, such as lilac, viburnum, and spirea, should be pruned soon after flowering. Pruning them in winter would remove the flower buds that have already formed. After flowering, prune these shrubs by cutting them back by about one-third. This will stimulate new growth and more flowers for the following year.

Summer-flowering shrubs

Shrubs that bloom in summer, such as rose of Sharon and hydrangea, should also be pruned in late winter or early spring before new growth starts. Prune them to shape by removing dead or damaged branches. Do not cut into wood that has not yet bloomed, or you will sacrifice flowers for that season.

For professional guidance on strategic winter pruning for your garden, contact the expert landscapers at Rosemont Landscaping. By properly timing pruning of shrubs, you can achieve a well-organized landscape and boost the health of your plants.

For a more thorough understanding, consider checking this link.

Winter Shrub Pruning Step-by-Step

Winter pruning of shrubs is essential for controlling their size and shape. Pruning in late winter or early spring before new growth starts allows you to see the overall structure and cut selectively. The dormant season is ideal for more extensive pruning. For the health of your shrubs and an organized landscape, follow these strategic steps:

Assess the Shrub's Current State

Examine your shrub to determine if it needs rejuvenation pruning or just light shaping. Look for dead or crossing branches and any damage. Consider the shrub’s natural shape and prune to enhance its best features. Remove up to one-third of older stems at a time. For more tips, visit Rosemont Landscape Contractors.

Prune for Structure and Air Circulation

Thin out crowded interior branches to open up the shrub. Remove any stems rubbing against each other. Prune the shrub so sunlight and air can reach inside, which helps prevent disease.

Prune for Size and Shape

Decide how large you want the shrub to be and prune accordingly. Use sharp, clean pruning shears and cut branches at their point of origin. For formal hedges, prune so the top is slightly narrower than the bottom.

To maintain the health and beauty of your garden shrubs, make winter pruning an annual task. When done properly, pruning encourages new growth, improves structure and flowering, and helps keep shrubs looking their best. For more landscape tips or professional pruning services, contact the experts at Rosemont Landscape Contractors.

Pruning your shrubs during the winter ensures a healthy, organized landscape. Strategic cutting stimulates new growth while removing old, woody branches. Take control of unwieldy shrubs with mindful trimming. Consult the winter pruning experts at Rosemont Landscape Company for advice on maximizing your garden space. Their full-service design team offers insights into landscaping best practices so you can maintain lush, compact shrubs. With an eye for beauty and functionality, Rosemont's customized maintenance plans craft an outdoor sanctuary suited to your unique vision. Don't let your shrubs get out of hand next season. Visit Rosemont Landscaping today and request a free consultation with a certified horticulturist to get your yard ready for spring.


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