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Now that I've lived in my very nicely landscaped first home for over 10 years, I have several "overgrown" trees, hedges, and shrubs (mostly, but not all evergreens) in my landscaping, and at this point I'm pretty sure it's impossible to do anything but have them dug out and replaced with new smaller ones.

For several years, I had tried to save money by not having landscapers do the annual evergreen trimming. I can only assume that this is the source of my problems.

To start, I'm not a big fan of the "manicured" evergreen look. With that in mind, is it possible with proper trimming and/or pruning to limit the growth of trees, shrubs, and hedges, or is it just an accepted reality of landscaping that eventually they'll need to be replaced?

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Highly rec this book, Cass Turnbull's Guide to Pruning. plantamnesty.org/MERCANTILE/literature.aspx?topic=Books –  wdypdx22 Jun 18 '11 at 20:02
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3 Answers 3

If you're buying all new shrubs and trees, look into varieties that grow very slowly or dwarf varieties of which there are many; these usually need very little pruning and allow your garden to keep a more natural look.

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The only way to "limit" the growth of a tree / shrub is to prune / trim / hedge the plant. There is also another possibility but it may have the consequences of actually killing off the plant. That is to dig a hole maybe 1-2 ft around and depth wise for the plant. Put in some good soil but around this soil fill with clay / rock. This prohibits the roots from escaping and so the roots stay in place. But again this has the possibility of killing the plant as the roots get to a point where either water gathers too much / there is no water at all.

The best advice I can give you is to trim / hedge / prune as often as possible, I just trimmed up everything today (mid june). This way you get the growth of spring (april, may) so all your landscaping plants are ready for a haircut.

By doing this in june you give the plants only about 2-3 months worth of growing (depending on your region, July - August - September). If you prune / trim too early (end of april, early may) then you will have to do this same task again come august.

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thanks! Do you have any references for this information or is this your personal experience? Also, are you saying there's more of an opportunity to control size by trimming/pruning around this time of year vs. waiting until the Fall? –  glenviewjeff Jun 17 '11 at 13:23
    
@glenviewjeff - the only reference I have for this is my personal gardening / landscaping experience. Wish I could help some more. –  JonH Jun 17 '11 at 13:31
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@glenviewjeff - I think it varies by species, but pruning at the "wrong" time of year can have the effect of producing very vigorous growth. You'll want to figure out when you should prune your particular species without causing this. –  bstpierre Jun 17 '11 at 20:26
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Unless we're talking the art of Bonsai or dwarf tree varieties, I personally think trees should be left to grow to their correct size, that's not to say they shouldn't be pruned to help maintain their health...

Pruning hedges and shrubs makes a lot more sense from a gardening perspective (IMHO), in fact most hedges and shrubs benefit from "regular" pruning (once every year or two)...

As "bstpierre" notes in his comment, pruning at the correct time of year for the specific plant and pruning that plant correctly are vital for the plants wellbeing...

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