When it comes to manicuring your landscape plants, there’s a big difference between pruning and giving your shrubs a haircut. Electric trimmers allow home landscapers to create nice shapes in their shrubs, but they’re actually giving their plants a haircut, according to UGA Cooperative Extension coordinator Jim Crawford.
Hollies can usually withstand this type of pruning, and that’s why they are popular in formal garden settings. They can be sheared into all kinds of shapes, such as the well-known Disney characters in the Disney World landscape.
“On the other hand, boxwoods and other shrubs can’t take shearing,” Crawford said.
The secret to pruning your landscape shrubs without harming them is to pick the longest shoots and trace them down into the plant. Once you find the limb’s origin, cut the limb off flush from the plant.
“This takes longer, and your plant won’t have that perfect, smooth, sculptured appearance,” Crawford said. “But the plant will look more natural, and, more importantly, it will live longer.”
Always prune trees and shrubs at a fork or flush with the larger limb it grows from so the wound can heal, according to Crawford.
“Cutting the plant anywhere else causes multiple sprouting,” he said. “You’ll soon be left with even taller, more unsightly shoots, or you’ll start your plant on the road to slow death.”