Gardening Tips: Shaping Your Shrubs

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

If your shrubs are getting overgrown it’s not too late to cut some of them back.  Shape them by cutting out individual branches or stems rather than shearing them into balls.  Shrubs like forsythia and rhododendron that flower in the spring need to be pruned now. They are getting ready to make the buds for next year’s flowers, and if you wait too long you’ll be disappointed next spring.  On the other hand, shrubs like butterfly bush or abelia that haven’t flowered yet or are just starting should not be pruned now because you’ll be cutting off the flower buds.  Wait until just after they flower to prune them.


Be cautious about cutting back needled evergreens like juniper or pine.  Most of them will not regrow from bare wood and if you cut them back to where there’s no foliage you’ll have that ugly bare spot forever. Many of us have junipers of one kind or another. With a little cleverness you can control and shape them and never have it show.  Simply cut the long stems back to a short branch that’s going where you want it to go. The short branch will take over and fill in to hide your cut.

But do stop and take time to enjoy your garden.  After all, that’s why we have them.


by guest blogger, Jessica Milstead
Jessica has been a Charles County Master Gardener since 2002 and is certified to evaluate gardens and landscapes for their adherence to Bay-Wise principles.