Cutting Back In Spring

One of my favourite jobs in the garden is cutting things back. Removing dead, diseased, or damaged stems that attract insects and invite diseases to develop is a totally satisfying task! The same applies to crossing branches, side branches, and suckers.

Late spring is also the time to start cutting back early flowering shrubs such as lilac, forsythia, and rhododendron, right after they finish blooming. This will ensure that you don’t remove flower buds and next year’s bloom.

Shrubs that bloom later in summer can be pruned in winter while they’re dormant, or in early spring just before the new growth comes. You can be quite ruthless with these bushes in late winter, and they’ll still bloom that same summer.

Shrubs that are grown primarily for their foliage, such as barberry and burning bush can be cut back almost anytime except in late autumn, but if you want to do anything radical, cut the shrubs back when they are dormant in winter.

Shrubs such as boxwood and privet are often sheared to form a hedge. To get a really good shape, you should try and shear the new growth frequently during spring time and then stop shearing the hedge approximately six weeks before your area’s average first frost. I like to use hand shears because they don’t require energy, but this does mean investing in a high-quality pair.  There is no point in getting cheap ones, it’s a false economy. I’ve been very impressed with some new ones I’ve got this year, Fiskars Hedge Shear HS72. They are extremely lightweight but with strong and sharp blades that they stay sharp for a long time because they are corrosion resistant.  

Treat climbers and old garden roses that bloom only once per year the same as other spring-blooming shrubs: prune them after they finish blooming. Be careful when you are pruning the roses and make sure that you have a

Be careful when you are pruning the roses and make sure that you have a good pair of gloves. I got some new ones when I got my shears and I love them.

I got some new ones when I got my shears and I love them.

They are flexible enough to feel what I’m doing but thick enough to give me some protection against sharp and prickly things, including removing pesky nettles and brambles from the hedgerow.



Mom of 3, keeper of mad collies and chickens, in search of lost perennial veg and into all thing permaculture. Writer, thinker and blogger. Maker of WordPress websites and internet geek.

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