Shrubs are such an important part of a landscape. Before you start trimming your shrubs and bushes this spring, take a look at this new video I just posted. In the video, I explain the difference between thinning and heading pruning cuts. By using thinning cuts, you can help your shrubs look their best for many years to come.
Here’s the basic information from the video.
1. Always make a pruning cut at the place where two branches meet. This is otherwise known as a “joint” or a “crotch.” Don’t make a pruning cut in the middle of a branch at a random location.
2. Most crotches will have one branch that is significantly thicker in diameter than the other.
3. If you cut off the thinner branch, that’s a thinning cut. If you cut off the thicker branch, that’s a heading cut.
4. Thinning cuts are good for your bushes, because there’s tissue that will seal over the cut eventually and prevent rot from entering the shrub. Thinning cuts can be used to make a shrub narrower by cutting off exterior portions of the shrub. They can also be used to make the shrub more transparent or less dense by making thinning cuts on the inside of the bush.
5. Heading cuts are not so good for your shrubs, because the dormant buds underneath the cut will be released. The result is that you’ll get a lot of branches growing underneath the heading cut in a few months, leading to more vigorous and messy growth than you had before.
6. Because heading cuts often cause vigorous sucker growth, it’s difficult to reduce the size of a shrub over the long term. If you have a bush that’s too big for the space in which it’s planted, the best long-term solution is to remove the shrub and replace it with a smaller bush more appropriate for the size of the space.
7. When trimming your shrubs, try to make mostly thinning cuts and minimize the use of heading cuts.