Shrub Showdown: Shearing vs Pruning
People like pretty plants, and they’re willing to go to great lengths to maintain control over the shape and scope of their development. We do this through pruning and shearing, which to the surprise of many are two entirely different actions, and knowing when and how to employ each will determine the health of your shrubs and bushes. Knowing when to shear and when to prune is something to be expected of a professional landscaper, but unfortunately that’s not always the case. Here are a few of the basics to help you better understand the difference between pruning and shearing, and when to use which.
Simply put, shearing involves using garden shears to trim only the top bits of the shrubs’ new growth. You generally shear if you want to achieve a formal, tailored hedge shape. Whether it be square, round or triangular, the goal is shearing is to manipulate the plants’ natural shape into the landscapers’ desired form.
While excessive shearing can make a landscaper feel in control of growth, in reality, it can be an unhealthy practice that places unneeded stress on plant growth. The end result of overshearing is typically defined by barren shrub centers with thin dense layers of older less-healthy leaves. In these cases, old less stable growth on the ends of the plant are preserved at the expense of new, healthier growth, which never fully develops.