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Gulf Coast Gardening: Making the Most of Spring Pruning

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

A little time spent pruning trees, shrubs, and grasses this spring pays dividends later with a lush, healthy Gulf Coast garden.

Ficus pruned in spring regrows quickly.

By Keri Leymaster

Even in a region known for a year-round growing season, spring is a key time for cleaning up and pruning your trees, shrubs, and other plants. Time spent pruning now keeps your plants full, lush, and structurally sound.

Here are a few tips for pruning the plants in your yard:

Viburnum hedge with new leaves

Give shrubs, such as viburnum, boxwood, or hollies, a tough pruning in spring. If those plants are too large for your space, clipping them low now allows them to flush out after starting out smaller at the beginning of the year. That saves you time on repeated pruning throughout summer.

For the most natural appearance cut the stems of your shrubs just above where the leaves emerge. This is where new leaves grow, and it ensures that you have lots of new growth rather than dead sticks. While shrubs may display bare twigs immediately after pruning, they put out new spring growth within a few weeks and quickly fill in after that.

Branching from pruning

Pruning encourages thin, spindly plants to look fuller. Cutting a single branch causes at least two new stems to grow from the point of pruning, as pictured. Use this to your advantage to create very full privacy hedges and shrubs. If a plant is tall and leggy, don’t be afraid to reduce it by half to get the bushy plant you desire.

Tie grasses before pruning for easy cleanup

Palms may need spring cleaning to help them look their best. Palms have the unique ability to transfer nutrients from old leaves to new, so make sure to remove only fronds that are completely brown. Extendable pole pruners are great tools for hard-to-reach palms, making the removal of dead fronds easier.

Also look for ornamental grasses that need attention. You can refresh these by cutting the entire plant down to 4–6 inches tall. The new grass comes through quickly and looks great for the rest of the year. Bundle grass stems with twine before cutting. When you finish cutting, the debris is already bundled for easy cleanup.

Make the most of your spring pruning this year. If this has been intimidating, know that your plants can grow quickly, and rest-of-the-year maintenance is reduced. This is the time to make the most of our beautiful weather and get busy with spring pruning!