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Bushes & Shrubs: Should You Trim Them in the Fall?

As the fall season officially sets in, lawn care is already in full swing. Many Maryland homeowners are digging into their sheds to whip out their rakes and wheelbarrows of mulch, but what about the shears?

While trimming and pruning is an essential part of bush and shrub care, the fall season is NOT the time for a new cut. Here are 3 reasons why you should not trim or prune during the fall season:

1. Open Wounds During the Winter

Trimming any bush or shrub causes an open-wound injury to the plant. This injury needs time to heal before the bush or shrub can continue to grow. Trimming during the fall season prolongs the healing process and exposes the open injury to the harsh conditions of winter, which is bad news for the plant.

2. Exposure to External Threats

Open wounds on bushes or shrubs leave plants vulnerable to many outside threats, including insects, disease, rot, decay, drying out, and much more. Exposure to such threats will significantly decrease the plant’s viability in the long term. The plant’s energy will dwindle and weaken as it try’s to fight off these external threats and recover.

3. Plants Expect to Go Dormant

Many plants naturally go dormant during the winter months, which temporarily halts the process of growth and development in order to conserve energy. However, trimming promotes new cell growth to recover from the injury from trimming. This interference disrupts the natural process just as the plants are trying to hunker down for the winter ahead.

So, what do I do instead?

To keep bushes and shrubs healthy, it’s best to save structural trimming and pruning for late winter to early spring. However, there will always be exceptions to the rule, including:

    • Dead, damaged, diseased, or dangerous limbs, which may be removed any time of the year.
    • Certain plant species that are less likely to be affected by insects or disease.

While year-round care is always recommended (especially for Maryland’s four-season weather conditions), there are other ways to care for your bushes and shrubs during the fall.

Unsure of how to properly care for your bushes and shrubs this fall? The plant health experts at Royals Greens offer customized solutions to cater to your needs by using best-in-breed technology to assess the health of your plants. Reach out to one of our experts today.