Pruning & Your Plants

There are a few different methods of pruning shrubs and evergreens. Heading and thinning cuts are commonly used for most species. Rejuvenative pruning and the haircut method may also be used selectively. Pruning can be dangerous and fatal to your plants if done improperly. With the plant’s health in mind, typically we’re looking to remove old, damaged, or diseased canes. We want to direct new growth up and out from the center of the plant and remove crossing or rubbing branches to allow for better air circulation.

When done properly, this will encourage your plant to produce new shoots, healthier flowers, and denser foliage.

Resist the urge to pull out your pruners or loppers and start hacking away at your overgrown foundation planting. Poorly pruned plants decrease curb appeal and may often lead to plant mortality. If you are unsure about which method is best for your plant, search for your plant here in our knowledgebase and scroll to the maintenance section within the plant’s profile to see our recommendations.

If you have further questions, contact us immediately.

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Proper Pruning

There are a few different methods of pruning shrubs and evergreens. Heading and thinning cuts are commonly used for most species. Rejuvenative pruning…

General Guidelines

  • Most commonly occurs when the plant is dormant
  • Late fall, winter, before bud break, March-early April
  • Warning: A select few shrubs may only be pruned after flowering (see thinning cuts)
  • Remove any dead, damaged, or diseased branches
  • Direct new growth to go up and out from the center of the shrub
  • Remove any crossing or rubbing branches

General Tools

Links to Amazon are provided for informational purposes only. Your local gardening store should carry most of these products.

Select Your Pruning Method

If you’re unsure which method is the best for your plant, there’s a maintenance section in all plant profiles in our knowledgebase.

Heading Cuts Method

Annual, Common

Thinning Cuts Method

Annual, Common

Rejuvenative Pruning

Plant Specific

“Haircut” Method

2-3 Years, Plant Specific

Hedging & Shearing

Annual, Common

Fruit Trees

5-Year Plan

Deciduous Trees & Herbaceous Perennials

Regular pruning is the most important thing you can do for your trees and perennials. Proper pruning provides many benefits. However, if done improperly or too much, it can be harmful to your plants. Over-pruning can rob a plant of food-producing foliage, and delay healing and regrowth.

Learning to prune trees is not as easy as shrubs or evergreens. Rather, this requires training, experience, and talent. We highly recommend having a professional arborist prune your trees. Your trees are a long-term investment. We invite you to check out the Arborist For Hire lookup at the Wisconsin Arborist Association website to find an ISA Certified Arborist near you.

A common, easy type of tree pruning is removing suckers. Suckers are vigorous shoots that arise from the roots. Suckers can overtake the plant, causing deformity or mortality. Remove the suckers in the dormant season using shears at or slightly below the groundline. Generally, this must be done every season, depending on the vigor of the plant.

If your trees need pruning please give us a call and we will refer you to several of the certified, professional arborists with whom we work.

Pruning perennials (herbaceous perennials, ferns, grasses, and the like) is too species-specific for one article. Search for your plant here in our knowledgebase and scroll to the maintenance section within the plant’s profile to see our recommendations. If you have any further questions, contact us immediately.