Pruning or Shearing?
You may have heard us mention that our Landscape Services crew will perform pruning, but not shearing. In the nursery, when we are asked ‘Can this be pruned?’ we usually answer with words of caution against shearing. What is the difference, you ask?
Selective pruning retains the naturalistic shape of the tree or shrub. Pruning selectively removes growth to shape and reduce the size of trees and shrubs. Cuts are carefully made with the intent to reduce or rejuvenate growth. Generally, no more than 1/3 of the tree or shrub is removed at a time. This enhances the overall health and longevity of the plant.
Cuts are made one at a time, with a hand pruner. Appropriate time is given between pruning to ensure healing and regrowth.
With selective pruning, there is not the need for repeated or even yearly pruning. Selective pruning is better for plant health, uses no carbon emissions (gasoline), and requires no noisy equipment! Better for the plant and better for the planet, too.
Shearing is a practice typically used in formal hedges and non-naturalistic plantings. All branches of the tree or shrubs are cut evenly to the same shallow level. It is usually performed with hedge shears or a hedge trimmer.
This non-selective practice results in rapid regrowth that typically requires several shearings in a growing season to maintain the shape. Repeated shearing can stress a plant and leave it vulnerable to fungal or disease issues.
Over time, the thick outer regrowth shades out the inner branches, which leaves barren areas unable to grow. Therefore, this high maintenance pruning method is considered unsustainable for the long term health of a plant.
Plant Selection is Key
We encourage the selection of plants whose mature size is appropriate for the space. When selected with mature size in mind, pruning to reduce growth is not needed. Pruning for broken or diseased branches can be done as needed. Occasionally even an appropriately sited plant will need rejuvenation pruning or a few cuts here and there to enhance its appearance. This can be done while retaining its naturalistic appearance in the landscape.
We offer pruning training sessions to help clients learn how, when, and where to cut. Check out our services offerings to learn more.