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Should Bushes Be Cut back in the Fall?

The autumn months are approaching, and your bushes may be looking a little scraggly. They’ve had all spring and summer to bloom, and they may still have excess growth to manage. Should you whip out your pruning shears, or is it better to hold off for a while? Is it bad to cut back bushes in the fall? Let’s explore when the best time is for bush pruning.

Why Fall Pruning Is Not Ideal for Bushes

Most bushes should not be cut back in the fall. Throughout the fall months, your plants are preparing to go dormant. They’re pulling back nutrients to reserve for harsh winter months, and they need time to shield themselves.

If you prune a bush in autumn, you’re encouraging it to stimulate new growth. It’s like waking someone up every hour when they’re trying to get a good night sleep. In the morning (or the spring for plants), they’re not going to bounce back like they would if they got sufficient rest. This is why it is best to avoid pruning in the fall as much as possible.

When Should Bushes Be Cut back?

Most bushes should be cut back in the late winter or early spring. This will vary based on the shrub’s species and age. The general rule of thumb is to wait until after the last frost of the season. This ensures that any new growth generated from the pruning has the opportunity to come to fruition. If you prune in winter, the plant may push nutrients to the pruned areas, only to get hit with another freeze.

Bush Pruning Tips for Beginners

If you’re ready to cut back your bushes, here are some shrub trimming tips to follow:

  • Don’t prune bushes when it is humid outside. This is how a lot of diseases get spread. Wait for a sunny day because the sun rays can help kill bacteria.
  • Remove dead or dying branches first. Then you can focus on sculpting the healthy parts of the plant.
  • Avoid leaving a stub when you prune. Trim all the way to the main stem or as close to it as possible. A stub may be an extra space for insects and disease to harbor.
  • Sterilize your pruning shears between plants. Something as simple as spraying the tools with disinfectant will drastically reduce the risk of disease spreading. You can also use a teaspoon of water in some warm bleach to clean pruning tools.
  • Protect your arms from scratches. Wear long sleeves or long gloves when you prune to keep your arms safe in the process.

Berns Landscaping Offers Professional Shrub Care

Since there are so many factors that impact bush pruning, you may be better off turning to the professionals. Berns Landscaping offers comprehensive shrub care, bush trimming and tree services as part of our year-long landscaping maintenance services. We’ll keep your landscaping looking great throughout the year and strategically prune to maximize plant health. Contact us at (586) 756-1145 to learn more about bush and shrub care.