The Q&A Archives: Trimming bushes

Question: We have not pruned our bushes often enough and frankly, do not know when the best time of year is and how often during the year to trim. We have Nellie R Stevens Hollies, variegated privet, and plun delights as well as boxwoods. Please tell us how to proceed. Thankyou! Joan

Answer: Joan,

Pruning is as much an art as a science. That is, there are guidelines but you have a lot of leeway in how you go about it and how you want the plants to look. Some folks like a sheared, formal look while others prefer a more natural look. Shrubs vary in their response to such approaches. The plants you mentioned are flexible with either approach. Shearing is done from spring to late summer or early fall. You can usually get by with shearing every 4 weeks depending on the type of shrub and its growth rate. Less formal pruning is done periodically to remove gangly shoots and to shape the bush a little without shearing it. The following web sites offer a little more info on pruning various types of shrubs.

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