Give con­gested trees and shrubs a new lease of life with some ju­di­cious prun­ing dur­ing their win­ter dor­mancy

Garden Answers (UK) - - Easy Gardening -

The win­ter months, when de­cid­u­ous shrubs are dor­mant, present the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to re­ju­ve­nate old or con­gested spec­i­mens and give them a new lease of life. Hard prun­ing stim­u­lates fresh new growth next sea­son, but will come at the ex­pense of flow­ers for a year or two. Leave ever­green prun­ing un­til spring.

How to do it

To­tal re­ju­ve­na­tion Vig­or­ous shrubs such as bud­dleia and cot­i­nus can be re­ju­ve­nated in one go. This means all the stems can be cut down to 10-20cm (4-8in) of the ground. They’ll sprout again in spring. Stag­gered prun­ing Most shrubs ben­e­fit from a more stag­gered prun­ing car­ried out over three years to re­duce the stress. In the first year, re­move no more than a third of the branches. Start by cut­ting off dead, dis­eased and dam­aged stems back to ground level, and re­move any that are cross­ing over other branches. Th­ese cross­ing stems can rub, open­ing up wounds where dis­ease can en­ter. Cut back ad­di­tional branches un­til a third of the plant has been pruned back. In the sec­ond year cut back or shorten an­other third of the branches, then the fol­low­ing year re­move the re­main­ing third so the whole plant is re­ju­ve­nated. Feed plants af­ter­wards With both the to­tal re­ju­ve­na­tion and stag­gered prun­ing meth­ods, give plants a gen­eral-pur­pose feed in spring and mulch with a gen­er­ous layer of well-rot­ted com­post to help them re­cover from the prun­ing and grow away healthily.

Cut all bud­dleia stems back to just above ground level

For stag­gered prun­ing, re­move just a third of the old stems

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