The snow will soon start melting (hopefully), the temperatures are rising, and spring should be right around the corner. Plants that are perennials, ones that survive the winter and come back each year, need a little help usually to get them back to their best form. Shrubs sometimes don’t need much, just a few branches here and there that are little wild, and others need a more serious trimming to get them back to a healthy shape. Ornamental grasses always need a good trim to remove all the dead foliage from the year before, each grass is different, but the same technique normally works for them all.
Perennials is an all-encompassing term but for this article I’m going to talk about the typical ones you would see in a landscape, most perennials with stems like Salvia, Aster, Coreopsis, and Rudbeckia all need just a simple trim at the base to remove their old stems and leaves. Cutting these out will leave just a small bump but that bump will have a good jump start at life and really take off as it gets warm. Plants likes hostas and daylilies need even less work, normally the old leaves just pull out with a rake and they are ready for the new year. Ornamental Grasses, unlike other perennials, need a bit of work to get them in shape, usually a hedge trimmer can make quick work of grasses. If they are smaller then a pair of pruners can get the job done in a timely manner. But in any case, you want to give them a flat buzz cut 1-2” above the ground.
Shrubs come in all shapes and sizes, but their common trait is that they normally need a trim every year. Shrubs like viburnums need only a few branches trimmed back or some dead taken out to thin it a bit. Others like Hydrangeas need some special care to get them healthy. Some Hydrangeas need to be trimmed back by about a third, but each shrub is different and each one needs to be cut separately to ensure buds aren’t harmed and the new growth gets established. I would suggest pruners for Hydrangeas to ensure the right amount is cut on each one. Pruners are also handy for dogwoods which need specific older stems cut out that aren’t as colorful. Each year older stems turn darker and newer ones are brighter so cutting out the old to make room for the new is just part of the trimming process.
All plants need a little care, nothing is maintenance free and nothing can go longer than a few years without some help. Plants need care like all living things and simple trimming will make them look great for years to come.