Pruning shrubs in the fall

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by Roachy, Sep 6, 2012.

  1. Roachy

    Roachy LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Posts: 125

    I am in the north east here: NJ Just wondering whether you guys prune shrubs much in the fall. I know spirea can probably be wacked down now but as far as hydrangeas, ornamental grass, butterfly bushes, boxwoods, and other common plants here. I feel like I get mixed results when doing searches about this. I know some plants can be cut back and others should be done in the spring. Looking for input. I have had a couple customers ask me trim overgrown beds down a lot, but I am thinking of holding off until the spring for most heavy pruning.
     
  2. At the very least, you can remove dead and diseased branches, as well as crossing branches. Other than that, I'd wait till spring to reduce plant size and open up the inside of the shrubs.
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  3. Duekster

    Duekster LawnSite Fanatic
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 7,961

    What he said. Light shearing and dead stuff removals. Major stuff late winter.
     
  4. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    You do know that there are things like Maples that will bleed to death if pruned after January???

    That statement is a little extreme but makes the point that Springtime pruning can be dangerous... I've read in the early years about "When" and "Why" to prune various landscapes, and thought is was all confusing... But one thing I learned was:

    In the temperate climate, which is Wisco & NJ included, there is nothing that can't be pruned in the Fall as dormancy sets in... Halloween is the time to prune and it can safely be done into January...

    Are there any exceptions??? ... :)
     
  5. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,859

    What kind of shrubs\plants are in the overgrown beds?

    You need to be careful about rejuvenation because it can cause a flush of new growth that will not be hardened off by the first frost, which can cause further problems.

    As for the maples, sure, whatever. Someone better tell the maple syrup makers they're doing it all wrong. And arborists.

    Winter is just about the best time for reducing plant size.
    #1 Because you can do it properly, with the entire branching structure visible.
    #2 If you do hack it down, it doesn't look as bad because if it's deciduous it's already bare and it doesn't look so bad.

    One other question\comment for axe, are you saying that crabs can't be pruned in February or March? Or viburnum? Or burning bush? Or junipers?
     
  6. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    That's not what I said and I'm not going to discuss it with you, MO... you do what you want... :)
     
  7. cgaengineer

    cgaengineer LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 15,782

    No later than 6-8 weeks before first frost for hard pruning. This is very general, but some shrubs like hollies can handle pruning just about anytime of the season.
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  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    You guys have a lot of shrubbery, that we can't grow in Zones 2-5... our safest time for pruning is during winter dormancy, with very few exceptions... most fruit trees are considered best pruned in late winter, but disease or dessication aren't that prevalent when pruned earlier... therefore the simple rule of thumb is: winter dormancy, because it doesn't harm the plant in any way...

    It is easier to note the exceptions and understand the reasons, why they are pruned at times other than winter dormancy... at least that is the case in the northern zones... :)
     
  9. cgaengineer

    cgaengineer LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 15,782

    I prune most trees in winter
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  10. Climate zones have a lot to do with this. The reason you don't do heavy pruning here in the winter is in case of cold weather. We have 90% tropical plants in s Florida, so a freeze or near freeze is not good for them. Snipping here and there is fine, but rejuvenating an ixora hedge in December is not the wisest idea. Palms that are cold sensitive here that have a full canopy better withstand cold weather vs palms that are hacked back. I'm probably speaking Chinese to the rest of you.
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