119 Concord Place
Syracuse, New York
Phone/Fax: 315-471-5854

Landscape and

Lawn Management Services

Pruning Recommendations

If you have to leave the ground to prune any plant in your landscape, I recommend calling in the services of a trained - and insured - professional. And, by all means, do not operate gas or electric powered hedge shears while standing on a ladder as in this picture!Questions relating to the pruning all types of plants are easily among the most common that I receive from callers to my radio and television programs - and from clients, too.

In my mind, there are four reasons for the frequency of pruning-related questions.

First, we don't want to "hurt" a plant by pruning it. Therefore, many of us (or at least our significant other) want a high level of reassurance before making the first cut - such as removing the one-third of the thickest, oldest stems of an overgrown lilac right at the ground as soon as the plant has finished blooming in May (photo at left). Fortunately, in all but very extreme cases it's impossible to kill a plant by pruning it - though long-term disfiguration can occur.

It's also common for plants to suffer broken and/or damaged trunks, branches and stems. While this damage would go unnoticed in the middle of a forest, it's not exactly pleasant to look at - and at times may be downright dangerous when it occurs in one's backyard!

Plants also grow - often in "stealth" mode. What I mean by this is that I've talked with many people over the years that claim the shrubs across the foundation of their home grew to unmanageable proportions practically overnight! (Of course, what's really happened is that the individual and/or their significant other has simply ignored the situation for years, often out of fear of killing the offending plants by pruning them - or to go golfing.)

The `compact' in `compact' burning bush has nothing to do with its mature size of fifteen to twenty feet in height and spread!Finally, and in my opinion, the real reason that I get so many pruning-related questions is that we simply don't understand just how big various plants can become - especially when they start out as cute little plants no more than a foot tall that we inevitably plant next to our front door, off the front corner of our home, or under a floor to ceiling picture window! In many, many cases a primary offender in this category is `Compact' burning bush which contrary to its name can grow fifteen to twenty feet tall and wide (photo above, at right - my Mom can be seen just to the right of this plant at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri).

Along with burning bush, all types of junipers grow much larger than many people anticipate. As I demonstrate here, the best way to prune overgrown junipers is to reach into the center of the plant and remove individual branches instead of trying to shear plants into balls and squares!As an International Society or Arboriculture Certified Arborist (photo at left), I can help you develop a plan for pruning trees, shrubs, hedges and other plants in your landscape.

One of the largest red maple trees I've ever seen grew in our backyard for a number of years. However, it ultimately needed to come down as we prepared to repave our driveway and replace the roofs on our home and garage.Just keep in mind that my recommendations may occasionally include the removal of plants that pose a significant hazard to people and/or structures - or simply can't be pruned in manner that improves their appearance and/or health (such a situation existed at our home where it became necessary to take down a one hundred foot-tall red maple tree that was simply overwhelming our driveway, home and garage, photo at right).