How to prune shrubs

Once you learn how to prune shrubs, it’ll make garden maintenance a lot easier. It’s not as hard as it sounds, and it can improve overall performance, flowering and much more!

Some deciduous shrubs require being pruned in winter. This is due to to them shedding their leaves and sending the food preserves to their roots. If pruned earlier in the year it removes those important food reserves in the green leaves. However, there are some shrubs that benefit from spring pruning depending on when they flower, so check before you start snipping!

Step 1: Check your tools

The tools you used to prune your shrubs can make or break the process. Whether you are using anvil pruners or bypass loppers. Or maybe even small powered tools like chainsaws, wood saws, or a metal hacksaw for thicker branches and trunks. It is vital that your tools are sharp enough to create a straight, clean cut.

Step 2: Where to start

Always cut branches on a slant at a 45 degree angle. Flat cuts are dangerous as they bring the possibility of inviting fungus or disease to your plant. Rainwater slides off a slanted cut. When proceeding to prune, you should cut just above what’s known as the ‘branch collar’. The ‘branch collar’ is a bumpy ring that is filled with plant growth cells, and gives the shrub a better chance of recovering from the cut.

Step 3: Where to prune

‘Heading back’ is a well known technique that gives your shrub a natural look. To achieve this look, locate the tallest main branch. Follow this branch until it meets a lower side branch that points upwards. Cut the main branch off just above the smaller one. Repeat this process with all the main branches, but make sure to continuously access your work. Remember that new growth will give additional height, to prune slightly lower than expected.

If done correctly, then over the next couple of months your shrubs should be growing healthier and stronger than ever. Pruning is an important part of garden maintenance and shouldn’t be ignored.

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When to prune acers

The best time to prune acers is when they’re dormant during November and December. But it doesn’t hurt to brush up on your knowledge to ensure you’re ready for when the time comes. The reason we prune acers whilst they are dormant is due to the sap they bleed when pruned which weakens the tree. It is also best to keep the pruning to a minimum as to keep the natural shape of the tree.

Acers are a great addition to any garden, and make an amazing centre piece for any garden. With leaves that turn beautiful shades of red, crimson, orange or yellow in Autumn. As slow growing and compact plants, acers are especially great for smaller gardens.

One thing to be aware of when planting acers is that they grow best in a sheltered position, and need to be protected from wind and frost.

How to prune

In order to keep this natural shape start by removing the badly-placed or crossing shoots to encourage the natural framework of the tree to grow. When reducing the width and height follow the long branches back to the side branch and prune.

Why we prune

Pruning is much more than sawing off branches. Pruning encourages growth, increases flowering and improves overall plant health. Here are a few others reasons to prune your trees:

  • Strengthens tree structure
  • Improves tree health
  • Reduces the risk of dead or weak branches

Important Notes

The key to making sure your acer continues to grow steadily and healthily is to only prune back to a well-placed side branch. Leaving it as a stub will make it susceptible to decay and dieback. Also remember to take out any dead, damaged or diseased wood.

Whether your acer is the main garden event or just a beautiful addition, keeping on top of its maintenance can ensure that it will take centre stage.

Read more from J Parkers:

February in the Garden

February invites the first signs of spring into our gardens; days are lengthening, bulbs begin to emerge from the ground, and colour in the garden is just around the corner. This month is about cleansing (after the Latin word februum which means purification), and there’s no better time than now to give your garden a little TLC in preparation for spring.

Tidy Up

Flowers

  • Remove faded flowers, such as Winter Pansies and Violas, from containers to encourage them to flower more during spring and prevent from going to seed.
  • Deadhead early flowering plants such as Primulas regularly to encourage fresh flowers.
  • Remove any dead or decaying leaves from container plants to avoid encouraging slugs and snails in early spring.

Grasses

  • Deciduous grasses which have been left unpruned over winter should now be cut back to the ground.
  • Remove dead material from evergreen grasses to make space for new growth in the coming months.
  • Tidy up decaying material around perennials and remove any leaf litter to discourage the slugs and snails as they arrive in early spring.

Cutting Garden

  • Prepare your cut flower beds by removing any stubborn perennial weeds, such as brambles or bindweed, which may be hiding.
  • If the soil is particularly stony, it can be sieved and raked until the texture is nice and fine.
  • Borders can also be given a boost by adding organic feed such as chicken manure and seaweed.

Looking after your lawn:

  • Remember to keep off the grass when there‚Äôs a frost, as the blades are more susceptible to damage which could lead to lawn diseases and other problems.
  • Ensure you brush off any debris or leaves which have fallen onto your lawn, as they can smother and cause discolouration to the grass.
  • Towards the end of the month, if the grass has produced some growth, you may be able to give your lawn a light trim with the lawnmower.

Planting Summer Bulbs

There are many lovely late-spring and summer bulbs which although usually planted in the autumn, if you missed that slot, early spring provides another opportunity. Below are some beautiful bulbs suitable for planting this month.

Allium

Alliums are easy to grow and once established return reliably every year; if planted in February will flower in late spring and early summer.

Lilies

Lilies can be planted in February and March and make a great scented display. If your garden has wet, heavy soil they are better planted in containers.

Anemone

Anemone can be planted from February onwards. The best chance of ensuring summer bulbs flower the following year is to feed them during the growing season.

Crocosmia

Crocosmia can be planted in the spring for flowering in late summer and make a great display. They’re easy to grow and return reliably each year.

Prepare for your summer garden by shopping our New Spring 2020 range HERE!

Alternatively, you can request our Spring 2020 catalogue here.