How To…Prune Evergreen Shrubs

How to... prune evergreen shrubs

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The main advantage of growing a selection of evergreens in the garden is for their colourful foliage and structure all year round, which is particularly welcome over the winter months.

Some also produce lovely flowers at various time of the year and all evergreens are great for providing habitat and shelter for birds throughout the year.

The main pruning time to maintain size or reduce height is this time of the year, just as the plants are starting to show new growth.

Most evergreens are hardy, but if pruned in winter, especially in frosty weather the foliage and stems can be damaged. Pruned now the plants will quickly recover and make new shoots, although with spring flowering evergreens such as camellia and ceanothus, wait until the flowers have finished before pruning.

As evergreens come in all shapes and sizes, there’s a place for them in all gardens, whether you want large shrubs to form a shelter belt or for privacy, or small shrubs as specimens in borders.

Pruning is very simple and in many cases it’s simply a case of a little annual pruning to maintain a shape or the size of the shrub. Most can be pruned with secateurs to create a natural shape, but on thicker stems that need cutting back a pair of loppers are handy.

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Small shrubs such as euonymus or Pittosporum ‘Tom Thumb’ need just a light prune to maintain a good, compact shape.

Large shrubs such as laurel or elaeagnus that can grow tall may need a heavier prune occasionally to reduce their height.

Where low growing or ground cover evergreens grow over a lawn, prune back some of the lower branches

If your shrubs show frost or wind scorch, should be pruned out to healthy wood.

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