Bush Trimming: Visual Appeal vs. Healthy Growth

We are often asked by clients, “How can you make my bushes and shrubs look better?” This is an integral part to any proper looking house or commercial property. It is a part of any landscape maintenance proposal we send out to our clients. But how can you make them look better but also promote healthy growth.

We’ve all seen those bushes that grow at strange angles. The flowers grow on only one side of the plant. Basically, it just looks unnatural. As strange as this sounds, the odd growth and unhealthy looks plants occur primarily because the bushes are trimmed for visual appeal, not healthy growth.

Improper Bush Trimming

So how can you trim bushes for healthy growth and for visual appeal? Use the right approach for the right plant.

Promote Healthy Growth AND Visual Appeal

The most important thing here is matching the technique with the correct type of plant. These are the four primary ways to trim any bush or shrub you come across in Minnesota.

Renewal Pruning

If you have woody, tree-like shrubs, this is the best option for pruning. You cut out up to one-third of the dead branches and sticks at the base of the bush. You allow the shrub to keep it’s distinctive natural shape while removing the dead, unused parts. This also allows the plant to have sunlight reach all the way down to the base. With the old material removed and more sunlight, the shrub will grow healthier shoots which flower wonderfully.

Proper Shrub Trimming for Healthy Growth

From http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthkind/landscape/proper-pruning-techniques/


Rejuvanation Pruning

For perennials and the more leafy types of decorative plants, go this route. It seems drastic but you cut the plant down to its base to promote new growth. Perennials stop giving energy to their outer leaves and extremities in the winter time. Cutting them back in the fall or very early spring allows them to start brand new, green, lush growth the next growing season as opposed to battling through their old growth. It’s a fresh start for the plant.

Perennial cut back Minnesota

Taken from http://www.lifeandlawn.com


Selective Pruning

This technique is the ideal choice for large trees and over-sized bushes/shrubs. These types of plants have a natural form which can be maintained by light trimming. Branches are cut in specific places (near collars) to continue the natural shape and provide natural protection to the exposed parts of the trunk. Pruning shears and lopping shears are your best friends here. The point of this type of pruning is to get rid of unsightly, unhealthy branches and suckers near the base of the plant. The common mistake people make is cutting the branches in the incorrect spot. Check out the picture below.

Tree Trimming Correctly for Minnesota

Taken from http://www.brucecompany.com



When I say “Bush Trimming” this is what comes to most people’s minds. You think of a hedge clipper or gas powered trimmer. You think of cutting only the outer part of a bush or shrub so it looks nice for now. The technique itself is not bad. It’s actually a very good option when you’re trimming a hedge line or evergreens (as long as you don’t cut too much back). You also want to make sure you trim the hedge wider at the bottom than at the top to allow for sunlight to reach the whole plant.

Proper Hedge Trimming Technique Minneapolis MN

From http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthkind/landscape/proper-pruning-techniques/

The problem is that shearing is usually applied to all kinds of bushes/shrubs. When you only cut the top ends off, you don’t get down to the base of the plant. Old plant material builds up and the base of the plant can’t get sunlight. The plant starts to deteriorate from within.

 Proper Bush Trimming Doesn’t Have To Be A Mystery

Visual appeal and healthy growth don’t need to be a black and white choice when bush trimming. When you use the correct approach for the appropriate bush/shrub, you can achieve both aspects easily.

For all your bush trimming needs, contact KG Landscape. We have University of Minnesota trained horticulturists on our team to train and work with our team. We will get your shrubs look good and feeling good.