Need Help?

Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

See my work on Pinterest at Garden Guru Montreal

Entries in pruning trees (1)


How to Prune Trees, Shrubs, Vines, Hedges and More: a book review for

The Pruning Answer Book, Lewis Hill and Penelope O’Sullivan, Storey Publishing 

This is an actual pocket book. Because it measures only 4.5 x 6 inches in size, gardeners who wears cargo pants or shorts can easily fit this tiny guide into a bellow pocket for fast reference. The book is divided into 13 chapters, each one addressing a different aspect of pruning. Inside, the reader will find answers to the basic questions why and when to prune. It furnishes the list of tools required, and addresses good and bad pruning practices. General advice is offered for pruning deciduous and flowering trees, ornamental shrubs, evergreens, hedges, topiaries, espaliers, cordons, woody vines, ground cover, fruit trees, bush fruit, brambles, grapes, and nut trees.

In addition, instructions are given for coppicing whereby a tree is cut to ground level so that it performs as a shrub and for pollarding, a technique that keeps deer from eating trees. Diagramed suggestions are provided for loosening, protecting and replacing a vine in order to paint exterior siding and on training a rose shrub to grow on a trellis. We are informed why rhododendrons should be dead headed, and how they should be pruned. An illustration demonstrates various ways that hedges can work for us in the garden. These include, shielding traffic noises, hiding unattractive views, discouraging trespassing, forming wind breaks or snow traps, sheltering nesting birds and more. Finally, the book is rounded out with a 54 page plant-by-plant pruning guide for ornamental trees, shrubs and vines.

According to the authors, wild animals prune trees and shrubs naturally when they eat plants...…..over time, people have observed nature’s pruning methods and have tried to improve on them because pruning –when properly done- strengthens rather than weakens trees…....…pruning is a balance between art and science, between a plant’s essential form and your pruning goal or the effect that you want to achieve.

Among the basic issues that are discussed include reducing the chances of a tree falling on one’s home, whether to prune trees after they leaf out in spring, to prune or not to prune a shrub before transplanting, correct pruning of raspberries and upright blackberries, the wisdom of harvesting blooms from flowering shrubs, and whether or not neglected grapevines can be rejuvenated. One topic that intrigues me is raised by the question:”Is it worth my time to restore an old flowering tree that used to be pretty but now looks kind of sad?”

However, the section of the book that has the greatest importance for me is the plant-by-plant pruning guide. For it is there that I have found information I was lacking. For several years, I have included hydrangea bushes in my perennial flower compositions. Learning the proper maintenance for each variety can be mind boggling in the middle of a very hectic planting season. Now, everything that I need to know about pruning this family of shrubs is conveniently accessible from a tiny book in my pocket.