Pruning Versus Trimming: What’s the Difference?

The terms "pruning" and "trimming" are often used interchangeably when it comes to shrub maintenance. However, these two processes serve different purposes and are carried out in distinct ways.

Trimming: A Quick Fix for Size and Shape

When individuals aren't quite certain how to care for their shrubs, trimming is usually the go-to method. It involves cutting back the outermost branch tips to form a clean, geometric shape. Picture your shrub as a meatball or even SpongeBob SquarePants - that's the effect you're going for with trimming.

In certain situations, such as maintaining a formal boxwood hedge or topiary, trimming can be an appropriate technique. However, for most shrubs, this method results in a thin layer of green leaves on the exterior of the plant, while the interior consists of nothing but dead stems. If a section of the shrub becomes damaged, there's no living growth that can fill in the affected area. Also, with limited leaves to generate nourishment for the plant, it may gradually deteriorate over tim..

Pruning: A Careful Approach for Plant Health

Contrary to trimming, pruning is always performed manually. Each branch or stem is cut individually, with each incision strategically placed based on bud growth.

Pruning not only gives the shrub a more natural appearance but also contributes significantly to its overall health. It allows you to make thoughtful cuts to mold the plant and address particular issues, such as diseased or damaged branches. Moreover, by letting light into the interior of the shrub, you stimulate growth throughout the entire plant, not just at the branch tips.

Pruning does require some knowledge, practice, and patience, but the results are well worth the effort!

So, to recap, trimming is like giving your shrub a quick haircut for aesthetic purposes, while pruning is more like a thorough health check-up and rejuvenation for your plant. Both methods have their place in landscape maintenance, but understanding the differences can help you make the best choice for your shrubs.