10 things expert gardeners say you should be pruning

Similar to getting a haircut, keeping plants pruned regularly keeps them healthy and strong. Pruning removes dead or dying plant materials, helps maintain the correct shape and structure, and increases airflow through the center of the plant to reduce problems with pests and diseases.
Almost all of the plants and trees in your garden need to be pruned routinely. It's important, though, to prune them at the right time of the year, depending on their growing habits. Learn about the 10 things experts say you should be pruning and when to do it. Your garden will thank you for it.
1. Roses
Prune climbing roses and varieties that bloom only once per year after they have finished blooming for the season, typically in early to midsummer. Repeat bloomers need pruning to help maintain an open, airy structure within the center of the plant and remove dead canes due to overwintering. It's best to prune that variety in late winter or early spring.
2. Hydrangeas
The majority of hydrangeas bloom on old wood, so it's best to prune them after they flower for the season, by midsummer at the latest. If you wait to prune bushes until winter or early spring, you will remove flower buds for the coming season. Reblooming types of hydrangeas bloom on both old and new wood; timing pruning is less critical for these varieties.
3. Other spring-blooming flowering shrubs
Early spring bloomers such as forsythia, lilac, azaleas and rhododendrons bloom on old wood, like the majority of hydrangeas. Trim them back in later spring or early summer after their blooms have faded for the season. To promote vigorous growth, periodically remove old stems all the way to the ground.
4. Perennial and annual flowers
Deadheading — the practice of removing spent flowers — is an essential pruning task completed all throughout the growing season, regardless of the type of ornamental flower. If perennial or annual flowers begin to get leggy, prune plants back to 6 to 12 inches high to promote bushy growth. Science Daily explains that removing the tops of shoots encourages the growth of lower branches.
5. Shade trees
Poplar, ash, maple and oak are some of the most popular deciduous shade trees found in yards. Prune them during the winter or in early spring when their leaves have dropped. This allows you to clearly see the branching structure of the tree and prune accordingly.
6. Fruit trees
Prune deciduous fruit trees midwinter or early spring before they break dormancy. The goal in pruning apple, pear, peach and cherry trees is opening up the center of the tree for better sunlight penetration and maximum fruit production. Winter pruning also decreases the incidence of fireblight in some species because of fewer pruning wounds during the growing season.
7. Berries growing on canes
Raspberries and blackberries are the two most popular cane-grown berries. Varieties are classified as summer-bearing or fall-bearing. Summer-bearing varieties do not produce fruit until the second year of cane growth. These types should be pruned shortly back to the ground after they finish bearing; pinch back the tips of first-year canes to encourage branching. Fall-bearing types produce a late summer crop on new growth. After they bear fruit, cut all canes back to the ground for the winter.
8. Grape vines
Of all fruiting plants, grape vines require the most extensive pruning to keep them productive. Pruning is performed in a manner to develop a main stem or trunk with several lateral arms. Fruit forms on the new growth coming off the lateral arms. During the dormant period, prune all vines back to the lateral arms for maximum fruit production.
9. Shaped or clipped hedges
Shrubs such as arborvitae, boxwood, privet and photinia are planted as a living wall to create privacy and borders in gardens. In the spring, when plants are newly growing for the season, clip/shear the new growth frequently to maintain a solid wall of green foliage. Shape hedges so the tops are slightly narrower than the bottoms to prevent shading of the lower foliage.
10. Nonflowering shrubs
Shrubs that are grown for their foliage and not flowers are less picky about when they are pruned. That's because there is no worry of removing flower buds. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach recommends pruning these plants in late winter or early spring. Avoid pruning nonflowering shrubs in the fall; the resulting new growth will not harden enough before winter.

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