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What About Pruning Hedge Shrubs?


Question: What About Pruning Hedge Shrubs?
Shrubs used in a hedge present something of a special case when it comes to pruning, so much so that a different word is used to refer to the operation: "shearing"....

Often (but not always), folks looking to grow a hedge choose shrubs whose foliage display is highly valued (perhaps valued beyond their floral display) and that are especially amenable to pruning (meaning it's easy to shape them by pruning). A good example is privet.

Because the goal in growing such hedge shrubs is to achieve a uniform leafy border (for as much of the growing season as possible), one doesn't necessarily put a lot of thought into pruning hedges "at just the right time" -- in terms of maximizing floral display (as one does for specimen flowering shrubs). Instead, the focus in pruning hedges is more likely to be on sculpting them in a precise manner. Hedge pruning, in such cases, is generally performed whenever the branches are "getting out of hand" (i.e., when they are no longer conforming to the desired shape and dimensions for the hedge).

On the other hand, if you are pruning a hedge of rhododendrons or azaleas, for example, you may wish to strike a balance between enjoying the potential floral displays such shrubs offer and keeping the hedge uniform. I.e., pruning hedges of this sort may be put on hold for much of the spring, until after flowering has taken place.

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