Hollywood actors often talk of “disappearing” into roles, where they aim for a performance so natural it looks effortless to those taking it in. They don’t want their method to be overly apparent, and it’s the same for many forms of art. It certainly applies to landscaping: you do want your garden to be enjoyed by visitors, but probably don’t want them noticing every cut on your freshly pruned bushes or shrubs. Like all artists, you’ll need to consider some fundamentals before your diligent shrub and bush pruning efforts are so well-executed that they appear … well, effortless.
- First, understand why pruning is healthy for the plant itself. Both natural styles and more formal topiary pruning can add beauty and visual interest to a landscape. Pruning gets rid of dead or injured branches and – whether using the more severe “heading back” method or “thinning”– allows more light into the inner canopy of the shrub and can encourage health and growth in the desired areas.
- Second, know that proper pruning is a safety measure for your home and property. The United States Fire Administration (USFA) says that “during the 2003 ranging California fires, a number of homes were saved as a result of the owner’s careful pruning and landscaping techniques that protected their homes.” The USFA offers many prevention tips on smart pruning for defensible space and a fire-safe landscape.
- Third, learn how to prune correctly. Understanding how to properly prune bushes or shrubs requires that you know or research a host of issues: the kinds of shrubs planted, which pruning method they best respond to, the natural form and shape of the plant itself, which tools to use (and whether they need to be sanitized between cuts), and when a shrub may need to be replanted in a better-suited location.