In a lovingly tended garden, most shrubs need a careful trimming at least once a year. It is important to observe a few important rules, because a wrong cut can greatly disfigure garden shrubs and ornamental shrubs. In order to properly understand the importance of pruning for the care of the plants, the interested hobby gardener should first of all ask himself why this measure is necessary at all.

That is why shrubs are cut regularly

Although there are a few garden and ornamental shrubs that are at their best in their natural form, most plants require careful pruning to maintain an attractive habit. In addition, it is a well-known fact that young shoots then bloom more magnificently. If they are not cut, they will lignify over time and bare from below. Also, stale shoots are much more susceptible to disease than strong, young shoots. Last but not least, a targeted pruning ensures more air and light in the bushes and thus promotes rich flower growth.

Different types of cuts

Basically, the following types of cuts are carried out for garden shrubs and ornamental shrubs:

Plant pruning
Old and damaged roots are either shortened or removed entirely. This also happens with the associated above-ground shoots. Plant pruning is carried out by the nursery’s specialists so that the bushes grow better in their new location.

Construction pruning
This pruning is also a job for the specialists in the tree nursery. It is carried out to support the natural habit of garden and ornamental shrubs. Shoots that are too close together are removed and the basic shoots are shortened to encourage more branching.

cut This type of cut can easily be carried out by the hobby gardener himself. Adult bushes are pruned by removing dried and dead branches and cutting back old, dark shoots in favor of young, fresh shoots. If the maintenance cut is carried out every year, it maintains the vitality of the bushes and promotes flowering.

Rejuvenation pruning
This radical type of pruning is only rarely necessary when a regular maintenance pruning is carried out. For over-aged and damaged garden shrubs, pruning back to 30 cm can be the last resort so that, with a bit of luck, a dying plant can gradually grow back.

The right tool

In the preparation, the most important thing here is that all scissors are made of stainless material. In addition, they should be clean, freshly ground and carefully lubricated. Experienced hobby gardeners distinguish between two types of scissors, the anvil scissors and the bypass scissors. The bypass shears are more suitable for thicker branches because they cut the branch with less effort. This effect is achieved by a transmission that resembles a gear. For thinner branches, the hobby gardener uses the anvil scissors, with which the sharp knife presses the branch onto the fixed counterpart and the cut is made in this way. The general rule of thumb when choosing scissors is: the longer the lever, the less effort is required. If it goes up high, a cutting giraffe is a good idea, which eliminates the need to climb a ladder. In addition to the scissors, safety goggles to protect against flying pieces of wood and gardening gloves are also required, because some shrubs in the garden can be poisonous.

Trim garden shrubs and ornamental shrubs

Once all the preparations have been made, the work can begin. The best time for a successful cut is early spring, i.e. late February/early March, just before budding begins. The most important prerequisite for a good success is a warm and dry weather. Under no circumstances should the shrubs be cut in freezing temperatures, because then they will suffer irreparable damage. The basic rule for a good cut is:

  • remove all dried branches;
  • eliminate inward growing shoots;
  • cut away crossing branches;
  • always cut just above one eye.

The cutting point just above one eye is therefore so important, because pathogens can penetrate the bush through longer standing branch stumps, also known as coat hooks.

Prune spring flowering bulbs immediately after flowering

The following ornamental shrubs are among the most popular early bloomers and are only cut after flowering:

  • Forsythie
  • Ginster
  • lilac
  • Rosen
  • hawthorn
  • Rotdorn
  • Weigelie
  • Spirea
  • Clematis
  • Zierjohannisbeere
  • Duftjasmin

These ornamental shrubs tolerate pruning every year after flowering, which is rewarded with a rich bloom the next year. The faded branches are shortened by half. If there are old, dark brown shoots in the middle, cut them off at the base. Hobby gardeners who have planted ornamental shrubs in their garden make sure that no shoots from the rootstock spread at the base. They are to be removed completely immediately because they usually have a stronger growth potential than the upper, grafted part.

Prune summer flowering bulbs in early spring

Late bloomers or summer bloomers are not cut immediately after flowering, but only in the early spring that follows. Otherwise, a late new shoot forms that cannot mature until winter, which leads to severe frost damage. The best-known summer bloomers are:

When it comes to summer-flowering shrubs, the more they are pruned, the more lush their blooms will be next season. In the case of young buddleia, for example, in the first year after planting, the main shoots are shortened to 50 cm and at the same time all weak branches are cut away at the base.

Rejuvenation pruning for garden shrubs and ornamental shrubs

For shrubs that are getting on in years, experienced hobby gardeners recommend a rejuvenation cut for garden shrubs and ornamental shrubs. These are radically cut back to 30 cm. The result of this measure is that sleeping eyes in the lower part of the shrub, usually near the base, are reactivated. The bushes sprout again, as in their prime, and grow more branched than ever. Rejuvenation pruning is particularly advisable for garden shrubs that have not been pruned for many years. This measure is also useful if a cut should have failed or the bushes are too close together. The same schedule applies to a rejuvenation pruning as to the annual pruning: Shrubs that flower in spring are pruned shortly after flowering. Summer shrubs get to know the secateurs in early spring. Ideally, the rejuvenation cut is carried out in two stages:

First step

All main shoots are shortened to a ground clearance of 30 cm to 50 cm. In order to get a well-formed crown later, the branches inside the bushes stay a little longer than the outside ones. The following spring, the hitherto dormant eyes sprout again. In most cases, numerous new, long rods have formed by the end of the season.

Second step

The following spring it is time to form a new crown from the new shoots. For this purpose, the new shoots are thinned out so much that one to three young shoots remain per main shoot. But even these rods are not spared from the scissors, because they are shortened by at least a third. During this process, it is important to ensure that there is an outward-facing bud below the cut so that no unsightly inward growth forms later. Depending on how vigorous the shrubs are, it can take two years or more for the plant to present itself in its natural beauty.

Basically, a radical rejuvenation cut needs to be carefully considered. If the bush suffers from a lack of vitality or if unusual cultivation conditions prevail, such a measure can lead to the death of the plant. Therefore, in case of doubt, a pruning is recommended, which is carried out over several years. In no case do conifers tolerate a rejuvenation cut, as do the ornamental shrubs listed below.

Don’t cut all shrubs

Some garden and ornamental shrubs do not tolerate such a drastic cut. Caution should therefore be exercised with the following species:

A magnolia bush grows wonderfully even without pruning. However, if it spreads too much and its size affects the aesthetics of the garden, there is nothing wrong with pruning it into shape a little. The best time is just after flowering in July. If pruning is done before or during flowering, the magnolia could be seriously damaged from which it will have a hard time recovering. If the crown is carefully thinned out, this can be sufficient. If branches and shoots are to be cut, this is done directly at the base.

Daphne is one of the loveliest early bloomers in the garden. Growing to a maximum of 1 meter tall, this ornamental shrub rarely needs pruning. If you want to thin it out a bit, you should not forget that all parts are poisonous. Therefore, gloves are essential.

The witch hazel bush and the hazel also basically do not need any pruning, except for a slight thinning out after flowering in spring. Likewise, the laburnum is sufficient if dried parts of the bush are removed. This plant does not require pruning for an attractive growth habit.

Prune evergreen garden shrubs

It doesn’t always have to be flowering ornamental shrubs that give the garden an individual look. As beautifully as the plants blossom, the splendor usually does not last long. Therefore, some evergreen garden shrubs should not be missing in a varied garden. Since they do not shed their leaves in autumn and winter, the plant does not look bare and barren even in the cold season. As a lush solitary plant, they are a real eye-catcher. Planted next to each other, they serve as a practical privacy screen. Typical representatives of this genus are firethorn, holly, cherry laurel , plumeria or medlar . They are not only easy to care for, but also do not make many demands when cutting:

  • remove diseased and dead shoots
  • Unfavorable and too long growing shoots cut off
  • Prune when the insides of the branches turn brown
  • do not cut if the buds are green
  • July is the best time for topiary
  • do not cut in direct sunlight

The growth form of the evergreen garden shrubs can be effectively influenced when cutting. If the goal is to get a wide-spreading bush, the eye located under the cut should face outward. If, on the other hand, the hobby gardener strives for a slender and upright growth, it is cut to an inward pointing eye.

Anyone who strives for a harmonious appearance in their garden should not underestimate the importance of pruning garden shrubs and ornamental shrubs. Simply pick up a pair of secateurs and snip off, can have fatal consequences, up to and including the death of the entire plant. There are only a few helpful tips and advice to follow, so that even a beginner hobby gardener can make a successful cut. The most important aspects to consider are plant variety, the best time to prune, and the appropriate type of prune. It is worth investing some time in order to deal with the most important requirements for a successful cut.

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