Pruning and Shaping Techniques for Trees and Shrubs

Every year when the first cool front of October rolls in I get lots and lots of questions about pruning their landscape and house plants. For years I have enjoyed shaping plants while picturing what they will look like next year or after several years have passed.

This week I have gone into my daunting list of past articles on pruning to review. Here are a few of the links. I hope they help.




Tree forming-Landscaping from the inside out.

Using Bonsai techniques to prune and shape overgrown shrubs and trees in the landscape.


Pruning for Betty. Japanese Maples, Topiaries and Bonsai

I got a text message the other day saying that the Japanese maples needed pruning. I had been expecting this so I shifted my schedule around, sharpened my Felco pruning shears, grabbed my camera and headed out.



Pruning an Overgrown Topiary

I really enjoy creative pruning.

My friend Tommy called me the other day. It seems that we had planted a large yaupon holly tree in his front yard a number of years ago and I shaped it into a topiary form. Tommy has kept it pruned for a number of years but now he is getting too old to want to get on the ladder any more.  Notice the wording—not “too old to get on the ladder”, but “too old to want to get on the ladder.”




The basics of pruning–What Happens When We Prune a Plant


Pruning season is coming up. I wrote this article some time ago in answer to the many questions I receive about pruning. It’s really a very simple process.

Growing a plant is one thing.  Shaping plants well is an art form and adds another dimension to your plant growing experience.  Here is an article that tells you what happens when you prune.  This information applies to just about any kind of shrub or tree.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. catherine
    Oct 28, 2014 @ 11:21:10

    Hi, John. I love topiary! I am able to maintain most of mine well, but there’s a spiral spruce near our front door that has gotten too tall for me to manage. Do you know of a pruning expert in the Raleigh area? The fellow who mows/mulches/bring me new plant for topiary says it’s beyond his expertise. Thank you. I enjoy your blog and am highly impressed with your “haircutting skills.” Catherine


    • John Schulz
      Oct 29, 2014 @ 07:16:15

      Thanks for the comment, Catherine. I’m sorry, I don’t know anyone in your area to recommend but the concept for taking care of your tree is simple. Get you a pointing stick and show your guy where to cut. My favorite story that applies here comes from someone asking Michelangelo how to make a sculpture. He said, “Get a piece of marble and cut off everything that doesn’t look like a sculpture.”
      Decide how tall you want the topiary to be, cut off the top, and use bonsai techniques to reshape it and keep it under control.


  2. Arthur DeMarco
    Feb 22, 2018 @ 10:42:42

    Shaping plants well really is an art form, I agree with you. My wife and I have a tree that we really love at our home and finding someone we trust to care for it is of utmost importance. Now we know to start from the inside out!


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