How to Prune Bushes & Shrubs

Learn how to prune bushes and shrubs in this lawn and garden care video from Howcast.


In this video we're going to talk about how to prune your shrubs. Now that's a very big topic and we can only cover a little bit here in such a short video, but I'm just going to give you a few pointers. The things you might need to prune your shrub are hand pruners, like this. You might use a small folding Japanese saw. These you can get in the big box stores. They're very sharp. They fold out. Be careful with those. And lastly, if you want to take off some really big branches you might use something like this which is called a loppers. N

ow one of the key things you want to ask yourself before you go out and prune your shrub is; why do you want to prune it? Are you trying to control the size? Are you trying to shape it up a little bit, improve it's aesthetics? Or, do you want to accomplish something else? You really want to make sure that you know what you're after before you go in and try to prune your shrub.

Now, the last thing that we need to know about pruning any shrub is' what kind of timing do we want? It's usually a really bad idea to prune shrubs in the spring when they just start growing or before that foliage hardens off. And the reason being is that there is a lot of chemical or hormonal activity going on in the plant when it's pushing new growth. And if you start cutting off branches, you may actually make the shrub grow more when what your trying to do is control the size. So wait until the shrub hardens off or until it's dormant in the winter time to prune for structural things. Now the other thing that you really need to concern yourself about timing is, a lot of shrubs are planted because of their flower. Something like this hydrangea here is especially difficult because you need to know whether it blooms on old or new wood. Now the only way a lot of times to find that out is to know what your plant is and search for it on the internet. A really safe bet though is to prune off the foliage when the flowers, just after the plant has bloomed. Or when the bloom has got to the point where you no longer think it's attractive. Then, if the shrub does form blossoms on old wood you won't be cutting off next year's blooms.

So, one of the reasons that I might prune this shrub is for structural reasons. A lot of times what you want is the branches of the shrub to be going outward and not to cross internally where they might rub against each other or compete for space. So in this particular case, I have sort of one crossing branch in there that I'm just going to take out. Now, when I take this out what I'm doing is I'm going down to the next branch but I'm not cutting to closely to that branch. If you're going to err here leave a little stub rather than trying to cut it flush up against the other branch. Because what that does is leave a little color of bark it will then be able to form around the cut and heal the wound. So here, I'm just going to prune off this one errant branch. And that's it. I probably cut it a little too far away from the bark of the next branch down there, but that's better than cutting it too close. I may go in and clean that up a little bit but it will be just fine the way it is. So when you're pruning your shrubs remember why are you doing it and make sure that you're pretty sure about the timing before you get in there and start hacking away.

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