Category: How to Prune

  • Pruning Ornamental Grasses: The Ultimate Guide

    Pruning Ornamental Grasses: The Ultimate Guide

    When it comes to pruning ornamental grasses, even an ordinarily confident gardener can feel some confusion. Each type of grass has different requirements, which makes it hard because there’s not one rule of thumb which fits all. While some varieties look shaggy and sad if not whacked to the ground each January, for other types of grass this […]

  • How to Prune Evergreen Perennials: Lady’s Mantle, Hellebores and more

    For most flowering perennials, autumn’s brown foliage and obvious dieback make it clear you can prune without harm, but evergreen perennials pose a special dilemma: trim now, or hold off till spring? Turns out, there are good reasons to leave herbaceous evergreen plants standing through the winter: not only do they provide greenery (or sculptural […]

  • Stop! Don’t Prune That Grass (How to Prune Ornamental Grasses Right)

    Stop! Don’t Prune That Grass (How to Prune Ornamental Grasses Right)

    Most of us know what to do with our big grasses that go dormant each winter: Grab a bungee cord, tie the grass up, and use an electric hedge trimmer to buzz the column of foliage to the ground. But what about those tricky grasses that are evergreen or ones that have a ground-hugging habit? […]

  • How Small Can I Prune My Shrub or Tree? A Rule of Thumb

    This is a question most of us pros have come to dread. Not because we dislike answering questions, but because the subtext is so often, “I want a particular tree, but I don’t have room for it. May I have your professional go-ahead to hack the holy hell out of it to keep it to […]

  • Prune Your Hellebores: A Public Service Announcement

    Lenten roses, Helleborus orientalis, are gorgeous in winter. They’re gorgeous in spring, too. But if you don’t deadhead them once they’re done blooming, they stop being gorgeous and start looking ratty. Then, they turn into spawning hellcats, dropping masses of seeds that sprout into masses of tiny, slow-growing, hard-to-remove seedlings that, yes, could theoretically turn […]

  • Hellebore Pruning: How-To and A Cautionary Tale

    There are two schools of thought on pruning Lenten rose, or Helleborus orientalis. One side says to prune off the old foliage to the very base just as the Hellebore is starting to flower. The bloom spikes start coming up in the center of the plant, and the old foliage lays down obediently: If you […]

  • Pruning Miscanthus Grass: How to Cut Back Big Ornamental Grasses

    Pruning Miscanthus Grass: How to Cut Back Big Ornamental Grasses

    Ready to prune your Miscanthus Grass? This is the time of year to do it! Ornamental grasses start shedding little grass bits everywhere in January, and with every windy storm they become increasingly messy until in early March you have a bunch of grass sticks still upright and grass leaves piled up everywhere in your […]

  • Brrr! What NOT to Prune in Winter

    Right now it’s major big time pruning season here in Northern Cali. I’m cutting back hardy perennials, roses, fruit and other dormant trees and ornamental grasses. But there are a few things I’m leaving alone for the time being. A lot of my favorite plants are frost-tender and can be killed by a stern frost […]

  • How to Prune Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Video Tutorial)

    Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is a true garden classic, especially paired with ornamental grasses, lavenders and colorful sages. It’s particularly great because during the summer when everything else is blooming, its greenish-white buds are getting bigger and bigger, creating a subtly beautiful show, then as everything else slows for the fall, ‘Autumn Joy’ bursts into bloom […]

  • How to Summer-Prune a Floppy Miscanthus Grass (Video Tutorial)

    I’m a big fan of ornamental grasses because they add so much motion and life to a garden. If you use multiples, they’re an easy way of bringing a sense of continuity to a busy or scattered-feeling garden, because the effect of their foliage is so soothing. Miscanthus is a favorite because it grows so […]

  • How to Prune Hydrangeas (Video Tutorial)

    How to Prune Hydrangeas (Video Tutorial)

    I love Bigleaf Hydrangeas (H. macrophylla), the traditional garden Hydrangea with either big mophead flowers or the subtler lacecap flowerheads. Most gardens have a Hydrangea or two tucked in, and why not? As long as they have composty soil and get watered regularly, they make a fantastic show of blooms with very little effort on […]