20170709A clipart-library.com
Why prune a hedge to keep it under control when you can plant an informal hedge using a shrub with naturally compact growth? Photo: clipart-library.com

The need some gardeners seem to feel to prune everything in sight is difficult for the laidback gardener to understand. Why not just plant things and let them grow? Yet many gardeners spend much of their summer pruning: hedges, shrubs, trees, conifers, and so on.

Wouldn’t it be easier to choose plants of the right dimensions for the space you want to fill and thus avoid pruning entirely? And choosing the right plants should be a snap to do, as these days most plant labels already indicate the plant’s eventual dimensions.

20170709B designscapesofnc.com
These shrubs have far outgrown any usefulness. The best thing to do would be to tear them out and plant lower-growing varieties that won’t block the home’s windows. Photo: designscapesofnc.com

For example, if you are looking for shrubs and conifers for a foundation planting just below your living room window and it’s located 5 feet (1.5 m) from the ground, isn’t it more logical to choose a shrub that will reach 5 feet (1.5 m) or less in height and therefore never block the view rather than a 9 foot (3 m) shrub that very quickly forces you to prune it annually just so you can see outside?

Or in a rock garden 6 feet (2 m) wide, why plant a creeping juniper that will reach 12 feet (4 m) in diameter?

I’m not saying that you can entirely avoid pruning just by selecting plants of appropriate dimensions (there can be dead or damaged branches to remove, for example), but by taking the plant’s eventual size into consideration as well as the factors you usually look at when you choose a plant (whether it needs sun or shade, it soil preferences, its hardiness zone, etc.), you’ll have come a long way to bringing the pruning needs in your yard to an absolute minimum.20170709A clipart-library.com

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

0 comments on “Plant Well So You Can Prune Less

Leave a Reply

Sign up for the Laidback Gardener blog and receive articles in your inbox every morning!

%d bloggers like this: