A Bush and Shrub Trimming Guide For New Homeowners

Many homeowners have an irrational fear of trimming or pruning shrubs, or even yard work in general, since gardening and landscaping are often falsely perceived as difficult, rigorous tasks. In actuality, trimming your shrubs and bushes is pretty easy, and the long-term rewards are significant and obvious.

pruning shears trimming a bush

In this short guide, ABS Tree Care will walk you through the basics of when, why, and how to trim your bushes and shrubs. Let’s start off with a few tips on how to trim bushes and shrubs.

Before you trim your bushes, you should know how it’s done

For smaller shrubs, you may want to trim your foliage with hand pruners, as opposed to electric shears. Although electric shears or hedge clippers can cover a wider area of effect, they offer little precision when compared to a simple pair of bypass hand pruners, and can even prohibit your bushes and shrubs from exhibiting full, healthy growth. While electric shears may help your bushes look good on the surface, you might have difficulty promoting healthy growth toward the center of the plant.

Trim longer, unbranched stems by snipping just past a healthy bud. This type of trimming is called heading, and encourages lower-side branches to grow and develop. As your bush grows, prune away old, weak, or wayward stems where they cross with other stems. This method of pruning will allow more sunlight to reach the middle of the plant, keeping interior branches healthy and flowering.

Now that you know how to prune bushes and shrubs, let’s discuss when to trim or prune your shrubbery.

Trim dead, damaged, or diseased stems immediately

Regardless of the season or the current weather, you should trim or prune any dead, damaged, or diseased stems or branches as soon as you spot them. Dead, diseased, or damaged stems and branches can harbor unwanted insects or promote illness, which can be devastating for your shrubs and bushes.

It’s also important to prune crossing branches to prevent superficial damage to bark or stems, although this rule typically applies to larger shrubs with thicker branches.

Flowering bushes and shrubs may require seasonal pruning schedules

Spring bloomers like lilac and rhododendron bear flowers on the previous year’s branches. The optimal time to trim these flowering plants is in late spring immediately following blooming. Pruning any later may result in removal of the flowering buds, decreasing the next spring’s bloom.

Other plants such as boxwood evergreens require their winter-injured leaves and branches to be pruned in spring, before hedging in the summer.

Trimming schedules for your particular bushes and shrubs may require some in-depth gardening knowledge, so learn as much as you can about your unique plants.

Why do bushes need to be trimmed?

Bushes and shrubs should be trimmed regularly to promote proper growth and development. Trimming your bushes away from your house can also prevent plants from holding unwanted moisture, inhibiting mold and mildew growth.

Most often, trimming bushes and shrubs is necessary after plants have become overgrown and unruly. Sometimes bushes and shrubs need to be trimmed because they can no longer support the weight of their own branches. Often, branches require pruning because they pose a safety hazard, or they extend onto another person’s property. Most often, however, homeowners trim bushes and shrubs to make them more presentable and aesthetically pleasing.

As we mentioned earlier, pruning the outer growth of bushes and shrubs can allow more sunlight to reach the interior branches and leaves, resulting in a thicker, healthier plant.

Contact ABS Tree Care any time if you’ve got questions on how to properly care for your trees and shrubs. If you’re in need of professional bush trimming and shrub care services in the Omaha area, we’d be happy to help.