Blue Planet
Becky Elder, The Gardener

Proper pruning keeps your garden healthy

Pruning Your Garden
Pruning is an art, a science and a skill that impacts the way plants respond and grow. Understanding the science and knowing how a plant responds is important to achieving the results you desire.

Some plants never need pruning, while others may require an annual haircut. Never prune ornamental pines; instead, if possible, “candle snap” the buds. Pines have “candles” (long buds) which should be “snapped” (broken off by hand) to control growth, rather than cutting.

Some garden styles require more pruning, while most habitats rarely need pruning. Know your individual trees and shrubs to tailor your pruning to the species.

Here are some seasonal pruning tips:

Late Winter/Early Spring before the buds pop

  • Trim out unwanted low branches and crossing branches on flowering ornamental shrubs
  • Remove old canes from shrubs, except spring flowering
  • Keep tools sterilized to prevent spread of diseases
  • Rose care: cut live canes back halfway or knee-high… not too early in Spring!
  • Avoid pruning in spring while leaf buds are opening.

Late Spring/Early Summer

  • Remove old canes from spring flowering shrubs after blooming
  • Pinch new growth on flowering shrubs to encourage branching…more flowers!
  • Spring flowering shrubs, like lilacs, should be pruned after the bloom


Prune evergreens. There is less stress in the summer for them.

Remove low branches from younger shade trees


  • No more evergreen pruning
  • Prune shade trees
  • Prune fruit trees and flowering ornamentals
  • Summer and fall bloomers, like blue mist, should be pruned in late winter

Dead branches can always be removed, regardless of season.

Remember to keep your tools sharp to avoid damage to delicate bark and tissues, and clean them after each pruning to keep disease from spreading.

Blue Planet Earthscapes’ experienced gardeners know when to prune and how to prune to keep your understory trees and shrubs at their best year round.

Call 719-685-0290 or email us to schedule an extensive garden/permaculture consultation.
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