Basic Pruning Tips for a Beautiful Garden

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Many people new to gardening fear basic pruning of their plants. Though it may seem complicated you can maintain your garden pretty easily by follow a few simple steps. The key to flowering plants is knowing when they produce their flower buds so that you don’t remove all the branches before they have a chance to put on their show.

Basic Pruning Tips

Simple pruning care is easy and helps to make a beautiful garden. Learn about some basic pruning tips on what to prune when to prune and how to prune.

Sharpen and clean your hand pruners and loppers and prepare for spring pruning with the following basic tips:


Everything may need a little pruning specifically:

  • Any dead materials which includes many perennials which you decided not to cut back before winter.
  • Crossing branches of shrubs; prune to the base.
  • Suckers on trees and other grafted plants that are coming up from the base.


Late Winter/Early Spring for the following:

  • Grasses
  • Shrubs that bloom on new wood (flower buds will formed on this year’s growth) including:butterfly bush (Buddleia), beauty berry (Callicarpa), oakleaf hydrangea (H. quercifolia), hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ (H. arborescens), hydrangea ‘Limelight’( H. paniculata)

Plants that bloom on old wood began producing buds last year and should be pruned after they flower.

  • Mophead hydrangeas (H macrophylla), azalea, forsythia, weigelia, spirea, rhododendron
  • Clematis  – if it blooms before June don’t prune


Hard pruning:

  • 6 to 8 inches for butterfly bushes, and beauty berry bushes for all canes/branches. Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ can also be cut back vigorously although new canes may have trouble holding the weight of the large flowers. I usually cut some way back and cut others only slightly.
  • ¼ to 1/3 of all canes/branches on others that are crowded and need to be rejuvenated.


  • To create a specific or natural shape that you like.


When cutting back or shaping cut 45 degree angle, generally above a leaf or flower node. Grasses can be sheared to ground level.

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About Patti Estep

Patti is the creator of Garden Matter, a home and garden blog filled with projects to inspire your creative side. She loves crafting, gardening, decorating and entertaining at her home in Pennsylvania. When she is not working on a project at home or searching for treasures at nurseries and thrift stores with her girlfriends, you’ll probably find her with family and friends, at a restaurant, or home party enjoying new and different food adventures.

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