How to Thin Shrubs

How to Thin Shrubs - Landscapers

Overgrown shrubs are not a pleasant sight and can invite unwanted pests near your home. Don’t be stuck in a jungle! Learn how to thin shrubs yourself.

Why is Pruning Necessary?

Thinning out your shrubs is the least noticeable form of pruning. It is like cutting your hair because it involves selectively removing branches, flower buds, roots, or seed pods so that the shrub can grow healthily, as well as look aesthetically pleasing. Dead or diseased branches can invite insects, so pruning is important for keeping away nasty bugs.

Thinning also serves to thin out branches in order to allow more sunlight to reach the entire shrub and other plants around it. Long branches overcrowd shrubs and prevent a healthy amount of sunlight from shining through. Plants underneath shrubs are also blocked from receiving sunlight, and run the risk of decaying and attracting insects. It is important to thin out shrubs not only for the sake of the shrub, but for all of the plants surrounding it.

How to Thin Shrubs Out

The best time to thin out shrubs is in the Fall, Winter or early Spring. If you have shrubs that have flowers, do not thin out the shrub in early spring because you will end up trimming the flower buds.

Before you begin, think about the natural shape of the shrub. Remove branches that do not fit in the regular form of the shrub. Thin out the shrub so that it maintains its form; do not try to turn it into another shape.

Use a saw, loppers or pruning sheers to thin out shrubs.  You never want to trim out more than 1/3 of the shrub at a time. If you have an overgrown shrub, bring it down only 1/3 and then another 1/3 the next time you thin it out so as to not severely damage or shock the shrub. You may trim down to wherever the overgrown branch meets another branch.

When removing a diseased branch, stump, or root, use a sterilized blade. Disinfect the blade or cutting tool between each cut or chop. Use beach or wood alcohol. If you are not cautious, the blade could spread the disease.

Additional Help

If you need major shrub trimming, TalkLocal can help connect you with the best local landscapers in your area. You will be connected with up to three landscaping contractors who will be available to help you when you need them.

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