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A Few Pro Tips to Give Your Garden a Makeover by Shaping Bushes and Shrubs

It is safe to assume that if you’re reading this post, you enjoy gardening (probably doing most of the heavy-lifting by yourself) and all its related aspects! That thread leads to another conclusion: that you know pretty well that occasionally shaping bushes and shrubs in an aesthetically pleasing manner can do wonders for your private Eden.

It is not that difficult to give your garden a complete makeover by cutting bushes into shapes just like the luxury-hotel lawns, golf clubs, and public parks in Florida and across the United States.

What is not very easy, however, is to correctly and expertly trim the bushes and shrubs so that they regrow evenly. Many DIY enthusiasts aren’t familiar with the maintenance schedule that sculpted bushes require.

This post is an attempt to help budding arborists (pun intended) and complete novices gain some extra insights into the art of garden sculpting.

Say hello to scientific pruning!

Shaping bushes and shrubs require good technique and practice- lots of it. Before you start off pruning, you must have some basic equipment at hand. They include:

● 2 or more pairs of stainless-steel shrub shears, preferably new.
● A pair of thick gloves, factory/industrial grade.
● Ethyl alcohol for disinfecting shears when you are moving from one row of sculpted bushes to the next. This prevents cross-contamination of diseases.
● A pair of transparent plastic goggles are also recommended.

Here are 3 handy tips for cutting bushes into shapes.

1) Remove bad & broken branches first

Many professional shrubs and hedge trimming companies and arborists call this the ‘4D method’. Identify the damaged and dead branches first; snap them off by hand or snip them using the shears. Look out for dried or diseased ones as well, especially near the top.
If you see any, prune them from the base. Else, the chance of the infection (borers, fungi, patches, etc.) spreading increases.

2) Resist using larger hedge shears

The urge to pick up your large pair of sharp hedge spears when you wish to shape the shrubs and bushes in your garden is great, especially if the area hasn’t received much attention lately. These powerful shears have that strength and the blade to give most shrubbery a ‘flattop haircut’, a word used in gardening circles.

If you use these larger shears, you will damage the canopy. Growth will be lopsided and several angles of the plant won’t receive adequate sunlight.
Eventually, it will have stunted growth and will be prone to diseases.

3) Never over-prune evergreens

Evergreens make for fantastically sculpted bushes. They retain the shape you give them for several years since their growth rate is comparatively slow. But ensure that you do not prune any evergreen plant more than twice a year.

Remember that evergreens have extensive root networks and they can grow to fit into any space you can accord them.

For better landscaping and shaping the shrubs the right way, you should ideally know what sort of plant you are purchasing, and the best ways to keep them in good shape perennially.

Which are the shrubs that can be shaped into trees?

Carefully sculpted bushes & shrubs to make them look like trees create a great focal point of ornamentation in your garden.
The most common shrubs that can be carefully pruned to resemble trees are the evergreen flowering ones plus a few berried species.
In the USA, the following plants are in great demand for this type of ornamentation:

◊ All the Lilacs.
◊ Hydrangeas, especially the Panicle variants;
◊ Hibiscus.
◊ English Lavenders. Note that they start flowering in the warmer months only.
◊ The Star Magnolia, also known as the ‘Spring Bloomer.’
◊ Quince plants.

Some of the berried plants that also make the cut include the Peking Cotoneaster, the Firethorns (which are closely linked to roses), and the Siebold Viburnum.

Of these, the last one was brought from Japan hundreds of years ago. Shaping Viburnum plants is recommended since they are deciduous ‘Sun Lovers’, meaning that they shed leaves annually.

Proper pruning ensures that their next canopy is thicker and capable of better photosynthesis.

A few last words

If you find cutting bushes into shapes particularly strenuous, especially when it comes to dense shrubbery or taller species, hire a local shrub care company. They will carry a few more tools and even hacksaws to improve upon your landscaping efforts.

Finally, never start shaping bushes and shrubs without the industrial gloves, goggles, and the other equipment we mentioned above. Shearing shrubs for ornamental effect is tough; getting injured while using a brand-new pair of pruners makes it much worse!