Monday, March 28, 2011

Cleaning Up The Shrubbery

Sweetie is back up by popular demand.

I used to be a believer that trees and shrubs knew how they were supposed to grow and we should just leave them be, but I’ve since realized we can make them healthier, prettier, and more productive by properly pruning them. My problem is I always wait until past the proper time or don’t feel like doing it, so they get out of control and require more than just pruning. In general, the proper time to prune is just after blooming for spring bloomers and late winter for summer bloomers. The problem is that for major work on spring bloomers if you do it at the proper time, there is so much foliage, it’s almost impossible for a major rejuvenation, so late winter is best.

For these first things I did, three weeks ago would have been better, but I think they’ll be okay. The Butterfly Bush just needs to be cut almost to the ground in late winter every couple of years. I forgot the before shot, but here’s the debris pile and what’s left.

The Snowball had never been pruned and required a lot of work. After this, it will be easier to keep up by pruning.

The Weigela needs pruning every year by removing the 3 year old (or older) branches, and leaving the younger vertical ones. It’s been closer to 5 years for this one.

These Rose Of Sharons have never been pruned and have grown completely out of control plus suffered some severe snow damage – to the point I couldn’t mow around them. I just picked a mental inverted cone size for them and cut off everything outside the cone.  Here are the yet to be done and the finished ones - you've got to be ruthless.

I did these plus my fruit trees, ornamental trees, crepe myrtles, knockout roses, and a few others. I’ll tackle the Azaleas after they bloom.  This will be a major effort and will take a few years to get them in good shape as evergrenns should not have more than 30% of their foliage removed in one growing season.

When pruning, it’s always important to use proper techniques – cutting out the dead, cutting back to branches or nodes, cutting off branches just at the outside of the collar, etc.  If you question whether you're rejuvinating or pruning - I never prune with a chainsaw :-).

A few days ago I was bemoaning being on negative news overload.  I watched CBS 60 minutes last night and it was a real feel good to learn about Bob Hurley, the 30 year basketball coach at St. Anthony's High School in Jersey City.  This guy has passed up bigger opportunities for his $9000 a year job where he turns out national championship basketball teams on a regular basis at a school with no gym and he has had only 2 players not go to college in his career.  Talk about impacting kids lives - this guy is a real hero and I'm glad I was watching to learn about him.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.



  1. Wow! You really accomplished something! All we've done is our butterfly bush, we still have to do the Rose of Sharons and the roses, and I think we're too late on the crepe myrtle.

  2. What are you supposed to do with an out of control and gangly Elderberry? My neigbor cuts his to fence level every fall after bloom. Ours is a mess. I'd like to cut it to fence level before it starts budding. Advice please.

  3. That was a LOT of work. I end up missing the optimum pruning time for my shrubs too & right now, well they are pretty wild. Plus I really don't know how to cut them properly either so when I do remember, I end up butchering the poor things!

    Hope you have a great week!

  4. My husband and I watched that same show - that is quite an accomplishment that all but 2 kids went on to college!

    I hope everyone graduated. :D

  5. It looks like you are ready for spring!

    I get sick of all the negative news on tv... I love hearing stories about people like Bob Hurley.

  6. Larry, Just way too much work! You ought to have worked off another 5 lbs. with all this effort... Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  7. But Dad, where are the hornets going to build their nest now?

    Thanks for dinner Saturday! I had a nice time hanging out with you and the dogs.

  8. This is a real undertaking at this time of year. I'm sure it all looks gorgeous when you're done. I marvel at the amount of work you have already done. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  9. We've just had 8 poplar trees taken down. We're talking 40 to 50 foot high trees here, so obviously we paid someone to do it. They were just obnoxious looking, and shading an area of the side yard to the point where we had no lawn left. I hate biting the bullet and taking down or even pruning, but after a while, it feels good to have done it. You are a few weeks ahead of us in the green department!

  10. You sound a lot like a horticulturist. I would have to do major computer research to come up with half that information! Thanks for sharing it with us because now I can just hop over here instead of doing all that computer work! :)

  11. Wow you are ready for spring lots of work and a huge accomplishment!

  12. It's just amazing how different your yard looks in February compared to late Spring.

    I'm tired just from looking at all the work you've done.

  13. I'm trying to catch up again and you are one prolific blogger, Larry! When you mentioned Rose of Sharon, I realized I hadn't seen one of those since I left Texas. I had tons of them by my bedroom windows. My son pruned them for me when he was about 6 and just scalped them as high as he could reach. I was shocked, but when I saw how much better they grew in the pruned places, I got "ruthless" with them the next year.


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