View Full Version : Trimming bushes way back?

10-26-2001, 05:06 AM
I asked this recently but I think it was lost when LS went out for a while.
Anyway, I have a customer who asked me to trim her bushes back to the branches for the winter.
Isn't it a bad idea to trim any bushes back that far, let alone right before winter?
I haven't responded to her yet. Wanted some input first. Thanks!

10-26-2001, 06:11 AM
I am not a professional landscaper so anyone correct me if I am wrong. From what I have read on the subject you need to wait until very early spring to cut back the bushes. Right before or at the time they become active again. This is because the plant will pull the nutrients from the leaves and stems down to the roots to get them through the winter.
You also dont want to stress the plant during a time it can`t repair itself and recover. Cutting back a plant can also cause it to produce a lot of new growth which will not have time to harden itself against the harsh temps and winds of winter.

10-26-2001, 08:16 AM

10-26-2001, 04:08 PM
What kind of shrubs are they? Why does she want it done? (looks, thinks it's too big?)


10-26-2001, 04:47 PM
Alan, I kinda embarrassed to say, but I don't know what kind they are. Still haven't found a good book to help me with that stuff yet (plant identification).

As far as why, it's the overall size. When I trimmed them earlier this season, she showed me how far in she wanted me to go. I explained to her that this would leave the bush bare, no green left. Explained it would look pretty bad. So I took them back as far as I could before hitting bare branches.

She just wants them smaller overall, but she's talking like 1/4 to a 1/3 off of there overall size. That's taking alot off. And this close to winter, are they going to come back in spring if I do this????


Island Lawn
10-26-2001, 07:18 PM
You're going to need to know what kind it is!

Different strokes for different shrubs!

Take a sprig to someone who might know. (extension agent, fert dealer, nursery, ect)

Take a picture and post it here.

10-26-2001, 07:47 PM
How long have they been in this location? Maybe it's time to replace them. After more than 20 yrs most shrubs in a foundation planting will outgrow their space. Especially if they were not pruned properly from the start.

Throw the suggestion at her, get her thinking, maybe you'll end up with a planting job.

10-26-2001, 08:02 PM
any of you know whether
to cut

white hydrangeas is Spring or Fall???????????????????

10-27-2001, 02:49 AM
Identification is really important! Even if you can find out whether they are deciduous or evergreen. Let us know.


10-27-2001, 09:22 AM

I believe how harsh and the later you prune will result in less blooms the next season.
Most hydrangeas bloom on old wood and if you prune too harshly, there are no buds for the next blooming season.
Try trimming just 10 - 20% of the plant or just about a 'node'

Also did you know you can change the color of a hydrangeas?

Raising the level of acidity in the soil or neutrallizing the soil over the course of a few months will aid in changing the color.

10-27-2001, 05:12 PM
Alan, the property I was originally posting about has deciduous.

But, my in-laws have asked me to do the same thing on thier property (trim stuff way back, like in half!). They have both, deciduous and evergreen. However, their property isn't what I'd call a "manicured" looking property anyway. The bushes in thier bach yard are way overgrown and I don't think they care what happens to them.


10-27-2001, 05:32 PM
Evergreens will not tolerate hard pruning. Trimming them back hard will generally kill or disfigure them. They only grow back from existing growth. They will not (usually) grow new shoots, so be very careful with conifers.

Many deciduous shrubs will take hard pruning. Cotoneaster, caragana, lilacs, mock orange, spirea, potentilla can usually be taken straight down to the ground in a dormant period. If the shrubs are in poor health, and the customer does not mind if they do die, this may be the fastest method for rejuvenation. A longer term and safer method is to do a three year plan for the shrubs. The first year remove all dead, crossing, diseased twigs, and approximately one third of all remaining twigs (This has to be balanced with how much was taken off with crossing stuff, only remove about one third live material total.) The second year, remove another one third of the old growth (evenly throughout the plant), new shoots should have started growing as well, try to make sure that these do not have competition from the old growth. Third year remove all remaining old growth. This process works very well, and does not stress the plant as much as the total chop method. New vigorous growth will happen, which can then be put onto a regular pruning program to keep the shrubs the size and shape desired. And of course all of this can be done in the off season!

Hope this helps.


10-27-2001, 08:52 PM
Can you post photos of the "bushes" to be trimmed? We can help and guide you at that point. One of the best investments in this business is a digital camera to document the before and after photos.


10-27-2001, 09:56 PM
Originally posted by dhicks
Can you post photos of the "bushes" to be trimmed? We can help and guide you at that point. One of the best investments in this business is a digital camera to document the before and after photos.--David

David, unfortunately I don't have a digital camera yet. Believe me, I want one! It would definately help with some of the questions I've asked here.
Money is the problem, but they are getiting more affordable all the time, so....soon!

11-06-2001, 10:56 PM
i would first Id the plant and then you have a jumping point to work with.

i use the "May rule" If it blooms before May prune after the bloom.
If it blooms after May prune prior to bloom.

IF your not sure what type of plant it is leave it alone.