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Pruning Overgrown Shrubs

When we moved to a different home, we discovered the shrubs hadn’t been trimmed in years. How can we get them under control?

Identify the shrubs to determine when and how much pruning they can tolerate. Honeysuckles, forsythia and spirea can tolerate severe pruning. Burning bush and viburnums respond best to a light pruning.

Major renovations are best done in late winter or early spring. The plants will soon enter their growth cycle and quickly recover from this work. Renovate suckering shrubs by removing 1/3 of the older stems back to ground level. Reduce the height as needed. Repeat this over the next two years and you will be rewarded with healthier, more attractive, and smaller plants.

Prune back long branches on viburnums and burning bushes to a healthy bud, side branch or main stem. Try to remove no more than 1/3 of the total growth.

In the future save touch up pruning for spring flowering shrubs such as lilacs and forsythia for right after flowering. This way you can control the size and still have the spring floral display.

Summer bloomers like potentilla and summer blooming spirea should be pruned during the dormant season.


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