August is a time for summer parties and enjoying the last days summer (Sure summer goes into September but school is in session so it doesn’t count anymore to most of us)  But it is NOT the time for trimming your trees and shrubs!   There are plenty of other things to be doing in your yard right now that you don’t need to go and tidy the shrubs.  Well that’s not why, even though it’s true enough, but you will create healthier plants with waiting.  Sure the hedges have put on a bunch of new growth, but now is not the time to start in on them- they have to get ready for winter.  That right I said the “big W” word.

hedge- highly maintained or properly maintained?

You might have seen your grandpa out there trimming away in August to fight off all of those new little branches that sprung up out of his hedge over the warm summer months just to keep things tidy, but in reality the plants may not have been ready for that and there is just enough warm days it will try to re-grow those branches.  Yup- the plants will work at re-genertating  their branches even though it is time for them to start their preparation for winter dormancy.  Not to smart when you think about it, but then again was grandpa thinking that way when he was trimming?

I have heard that many times from clients regarding trim times, that “this is when my Grandpa always did his and they looked fine”…but that doesn’t mean it was the best time to trim for all the plants.   Yes there are tightly maintained hedges that it doesn’t appear to hurt, because you don’t see the tip die back that was a result of late summer trimming and fall growth that didn’t harden off therefore dying and not leafing out come spring.  “Why not?” you ask, well they trimmed it again in the spring, and a few weeks later, and a few weeks after that.  Most likely it was  a hedge that was trimmed often- and a very woody one at that.

So you are thinking that you don’t want to trim lots and lots (aka high maintence) so therefore you shouldn’t be trimming right now.  Who really wanted high maintence anyway?  A majority of us don’t, so here are the best times to trim your plants, and it depends on what they are- take a look:

Deciduous plants (aka leafs that fall off come winter) fall into 2 basic categories:

  • spring blooming: (ie Lilac, rhododendron…)   please trim them after Bloom unless you didn’t want flowers.
  • summer or non blooming: November- March ( yup its NOT summer!) for hard trim, option to do a light trim in June/July after bloom.  – ps a hard trim would be removing thicker woody branches to rejuvenate, or trimming off a 1/3 of the plant or more…

Evergreen plants (your shrubs with needles and the like):

  • trim the soft new growth – typically may/June
  • only trim the tips to shape, trimming back into ‘dead needles’ will usually not grow back.

So now that you know there is an excuse to put off the trimming use the time to go and sit on the patio and enjoy the summer!  And please call grandpa and let him know he can do the same, the shrubs can wait until November  to tidy up for the winter.  Oh and don’t forget to mind the holiday lights…don’t trim with them on the shrubs!