Keeping It In Perspective

Between Two Shrubs

Posted by Keeping It In Perspective on 04/24/2014 at 9:11 AM in Lawncare, Garden Talk, Tutorials

“To paraphrase Oedipus, Hamlet, Lear, and all those guys, "I wish I had known this some time ago.”― Roger Zelazny, Sign of the Unicorn

I recently watched a mildly amusing movie about a young man who had the gift of time travel. Many times during the roughly 90-minute movie, the main character repeatedly revisited episodes in his past to alter a seemingly insignificant past choice, resulting in a dramatically different future life outcome.

As a designer, I’m often called to a client’s home to help rectify 20 year-old mistakes--trees growing into foundations, ungainly shrubs, poor drainage and/or nightmarishly difficult maintenance scenarios. Hindsight is wonderful.

How wonderful it would be to be a time-traveling garden designer! Imagine being able to hop back in time 20 years to dissuade a client from planting a row of baby camellias (mature size 12+’) as foundation shrubs.

Blog topics on Keeping It In Perspective will provide information to help you plan, plant and maintain your landscape so that you experience more joy with less toil.

Between Two Shrubs

When daffodil foliage begins to shoot up, pruning is the topic du jour.

It would be great if most of us pruned like we parented. Redirect early, often, and gently for strong, well-developed final results.

In a perfect world, one should never have to prune for size. One would instead only plant varieties that mature at the right height and girth to complement the location. As evidenced by homes I pass where shrubbery is the tail wagging the dog, it is not a perfect world.

When my dear husband and I purchased our current home, it had been unoccupied for some time. An unwise prior owner had chosen wax-leaf ligustrum as foundation plants. I’m convinced our below-market-value offer was accepted because the house was obscured by frighteningly overgrown shrubbery:

If you find yourself waging an annual battle campaign to prevent foundation plantings from blocking your windows or reaching the eaves, chances are the wrong choice of shrub was plopped in the ground.

If you find yourself fighting the fight year after year, either replant a more appropriate selection or depending upon the resiliency of the shrub, prune more drastically for renewal or reduction.

Proper pruning for maximum growth


Apex—Tip of a shoot

Bud—Can occur on the sides or the ends of shoots. A point from which shoots, leaf, flower or leaves and flowers can grow.

Dominance—A plant’s hormones are concentrated at the shoot tips. Removal of the apex of the shoot encourages side branching to occur.

Heading cut—Pruning part of a shoot or limb back to a bud.

Rejuvenation pruning—Excellent method to discourage leggy growth and control height. Each year, for three years, one-third of oldest stems are cut back to ground level.

Renovation pruning—All stems are cut to about six inches from ground.

Shearing--pruning plants with hedge shears resulting in a very formal growth habit, used for hedges within formal gardens.

Shoot—One season of growth for a branch.

Thinning cut—Removal of an entire shoot or limb back to the point or origination.