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Posted by Todd Thomasson on Jan 22, 2024 9:17:00 AM

If you are thinking about tackling some pruning of your property’s trees and shrubs, you might have some questions. It’s important that you perform this service properly or you could risk actually harming your landscape.

In this article, we’ll dive into some of the most common questions about pruning and answer them for you.

We’ll cover:

1. What is pruning?
2. What are the benefits of pruning trees and shrubs?
3. When to prune trees and shrubs?
4. How to choose the proper tools for pruning?
5. How much does professional pruning cost?
6. How to hire a professional for pruning?

After reading this article, you should have a much better understanding of what pruning is all about.

1. What is pruning?

Pruning is the process of making strategic cuts to your trees and shrubs to remove infected, dead, or broken branches.

Pruning has both aesthetic benefits for your property as well as health benefits for your trees and shrubs. That’s because pruning involves removing infected, dead, and broken branches from your plants. When this is done, it improves the health and growth capabilities of the plants.

landscape team prunes tree and shrub

Pruning can also help make corrections to the overall size and shape of your trees and shrubs. But when it comes to making pruning cuts, this must be done strategically. Simply chopping away at the branches could cause harm to your plants.

In fact, pruning is more of an art and a science than people tend to realize. 

The art is in pruning in a way that you maintain or even enhance the beauty of the plant. The science is in the fact that you must understand that plant and its nuances in order to benefit its health.  

In order to be most successful with pruning bushes and trees, you must achieve both.

2. What are the benefits of pruning trees and shrubs?

As we mentioned above, when you prune your trees and shrubs, you can improve their growth and health capabilities. This is because when dead or dying branches are removed, your tree or shrub can stop wasting energy on trying to heal them. 

Once those parts are gone, your plant will put its energy into the rest of the tree or shrub.

healthy plantings in raised landscape beds

That can lead to healthier growth. When you regularly (and properly) prune your plants, you’re likely to see more profuse blooms, longer bloom times, greener leaves, and overall improved vigor.

Pruning also helps prevent the spread of disease in your plants. When diseased or decaying branches are removed, it helps to prevent these issues from spreading and causing further damage.

Regularly pruned trees and shrubs also look aesthetically better. You already know that when your trees and shrubs are overgrown they look messy.

Of course, it might even be more functional than that. You may need to cut back certain growth which is now blocking a window or growing over the walkways. Sometimes, pruning is even important to keep one plant from shading out other nearby plants.

3. When to prune trees and shrubs?

This is a very difficult question to answer because it is entirely plant-specific.

Although you might be tempted, you can’t just haphazardly choose what you wish to prune or when to prune it. The best time and method to prune is going to differ from plant to plant. That means that even though it’d be a lot easier to go out and prune everything on one weekend, this can ultimately hurt your landscape if you end up pruning a plant that needs to be pruned at a very specific time.

While some plants are going to require highly selective hand pruning, others can handle more of an overall cut—and might be a lot more forgiving of the timing, as well. 

hydrangeas near outdoor fireplace

Some of the least forgiving plants that we often see in a landscape are hydrangea, azalea, roses, and crape myrtles. 

All of these plants benefit most from careful and selective hand pruning. They have a very specific way they should be pruned along with a set timeline. If you prune these plants at the wrong time of year, you could negatively impact their flowering for that season. In a worst-case scenario, you could harm their health so severely that they never fully recover.
With all of this in mind, pruning has been called both an “art and a science.” 
The art is in pruning in a way that you maintain or even enhance the beauty of the plant. The science is in the fact that you must understand that plant and its nuances to benefit its health.  
To be most successful with pruning bushes and trees, you must achieve both.

4. How to choose the proper tools for pruning?

As with any task, having the right tools is another key to success. You’ll need to make sure that you are making the proper cuts and in order to do that, you’ll need the proper tools.

landscape expert prunes roses

Here are just a few tools that might need to be included in a pruning toolbox:

  • Pruning shears are generally best for branches between ¼ and ½ of an inch.
  • Lopping shears can be used for larger branches.
  • Hedge shears are not for pruning but for shaping. These would be utilized if you have a plant that you want “hedged,” such as a boxwood. Boxwoods are universally known as the shrub for hedging as many people do like them trimmed into a formal shape. 
  • The state of these tools is also important. You’ll want to make sure that your pruning tools have sharp blades that can make a clean cut.

Dull shears will make a jagged cut which might severely hurt your plant. It’s harder for a tree or shrub to recover from a jagged cut and this can make the plant prone to decay and disease.

5. How much does professional pruning cost?

This is another question that does not have a simple answer. That is because there are so many factors that come into play including how many trees and shrubs you have, where they are located, what the species is, whether hand-pruning is required, etc. 

walkway lined with healthy plantings

At Rock Water Farm, pruning is part of our landscape maintenance services. In addition to needing pruning of shrubs and ornamental trees, most homeowners have a variety of other needs like seasonal clean-up work, mulching, weed pulling and treatments, cutbacks of grasses, and more. 

We can create a customized landscape maintenance plan that is specific to your property and its needs.

6. How to hire a professional for pruning?

We know that pruning sounds like a simple enough task that a lot of homeowners want to just tackle it on their own, but with so many plants requiring selective hand pruning at different times of the year, they often get in over their heads when they try to do it themselves.

Pruning is going to dramatically influence the way that your plants grow and have a direct impact on their beauty. Since all of this is tied back to your investment in this plant material, it’s important that it’s performed properly. The last thing that you’d want is to ruin some of the plants in your landscape because they were pruned incorrectly.

For that reason, you might be thinking about hiring a professional. But it’s important to recognize that not all professionals will have the skill or knowledge to prune properly, either—nor will they take the care you should expect. You want to find a pruning service that will give your trees and shrubs the TLC that they deserve.

To help you find the best pruning services in Warrenton, Gainesville, and Leesburg, VA, make sure that you ask whether they prune certain plant varieties by hand, alter their pruning schedule based on the plant material, and if they have an arsenal of many different pruning tools. Understanding how a company performs its pruning services will help you determine whether they’re going to take the care your landscape requires. 

You want to make sure that if you’re investing in a professional, you’re getting the best results out of their pruning services.

Choosing Rock Water Farm for Landscaping Services in Warrenton, Gainesville, and Leesburg, VA

At Rock Water Farm, we handle a wide variety of landscaping tasks. We also take great care and have true horticultural expertise that helps us ensure your pruning work is done right.

While we know that there are plenty of landscape maintenance companies that do not have a high level of pruning expertise, this is something that we take pride in at Rock Water Farm. Understanding a plant’s needs comes with many years of horticultural background and hands-on experience and we employ professionals that have just that.

If you have small ornamental trees or shrubs on your property and you want to feel confident that they’ll be pruned properly so that you can enjoy them to the fullest, we’re here to help. We’ll ensure that your trees and shrubs receive optimal care so that they can continue to be a beautiful addition to your Northern Virginia landscape.

If you’re looking for a professional company that can handle proper pruning at your Haymarket, Gainesville, or Warrenton, VA home, talk to an expert, choose a solution that rocks, and get ready to enjoy your landscape to the fullest.

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About The Author

Todd Thomasson
Todd Thomasson

Todd Thomasson, founded Rock Water Farm Landscapes & Hardscapes in 2005. Having grown up with hard working parent role models and a strong work ethic, Todd put his Landscape & Turf Management degree from Virginia Tech into action as the lead stone mason and landscape designer for the new company. Over the years, the responsibility and opportunity of running this company has been shared with other members of the Rock Water Farm team, launching one of the leading property maintenance companies in Loudoun County. Todd is still rooted in his passion for design/build projects and continues to run the company, working with clients to design, build and maintain perfect outdoor spaces with his team.