When it comes to modern garden design, pruning can be one of the best tools in your landscaping toolbox. We understand to prune or not to prune can be intimidating, especially to amateur gardeners.
At Hittle Landscaping, we’re here to provide guidance on this task. When done well, the results are incredibly gratifying. Correct pruning typically yields a strong crop of foliage, fruit and flowers.
Unsuccessful pruning, however, results in plant damage, apathetic growth and disappointment. No surprise most homeowners hesitate to do it!
What Does it Mean to Prune in a Modern Garden Design?
Essentially, to prune a plant, shrub or tree, is to steer its growth. In woody plants, each branch, or shoot, ends in a terminal bud. Below the terminal bud lies all future branches in specific patterns, depending on the species.
There are four general budding arrangements: opposite, alternate, whorled or spiral. This terminal bud is the “lead bud” on the shoot and produces a chemical to retard the growth of the buds behind it.
Once the terminal bud is removed by pruning, pinching or breaking, the chemical supply slows and the underlying buds respond. These buds branch out as they grow and become lateral shoots.
This tactic typically provides more of a “bushy” look to the plant versus a long, spiral growth. You may have heard your grandmother refer to the long growth plants as “leggy.” In general, pruning stimulates the plant to grow and the severity of the pruning dictates how it grows.
Strong pruning or “cutting back” generates vigorous growth while mild pruning allows for slow growth.
Why Prune in a Modern Garden Design
“Don’t prune,” claim the naysayers. Some believe pruning is unnatural and disturbs the preordained growth pattern. Others think the “cut” leaves the plant vulnerable to disease. Do not be swayed by these arguments.
Prune because a garden must be controlled and managed. Each tree, shrub or flower must coexist within the group and complement, rather than detract from or invade another.
Also, young plants heal quickly from cuts. Vigorous pruning in the youth of a plant or tree sets it up for a great shape and frame. This allows lighter pruning as it matures.
Keep Disease From Taking Over your Modern Garden Design
In general, annual pruning strengthens young shoots once old wood is removed. Most flowers, for example, produce larger blooms on young shoots versus old ones.
Diseased, damaged or dead shoots and branches must be cut back to the healthy wood. Burn diseased shoots to eradicate infection. Amputation of the diseased vegetation is critical to save and restore a sick plant.
Finally, if your taste leans toward the ornamental or balanced symmetry of formal gardens, pruning is essential. Pruning, in this case, evokes grooming and caring for a garden.
When a Modern Garden Design Needs Pruning
The prevailing theory suggests dormancy is the best time to prune. In Central Indiana, this falls between late autumn and early spring. To stimulate growth, prune in the winter. To slow growth, prune in the summer.
An exception is flowering shrubs or perennial flowers. To set the plant up for success the following spring, prune immediately after flowers wilt and die. If you don’t “deadhead,” the plant sends energy and nutrients into the head instead of down to the bulb or heart of the plant.
This is a waste of energy and food. By pruning after flowering, you force the plant to invest in the roots or bulb underground. This provides better and more productive blooms the next year.
Hittle Landscaping: Your Guide to Modern Garden Design
Whether you’re interested in residential or commercial, we’re eager to get to know you and your landscaping needs. We bring more than 40 years of expertise in thoughtful lighting, landscaping and architectural design to create something extraordinary for you.
Locally-owned and operated, Hittle Landscaping applies our trademark attention to detail to any challenge. Interested in modern garden design ideas for your property? Call today for a complimentary consultation with our team.