Can I Prune My Bushes and Trees in the Summer?

June 1, 2022
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Every year, new people come to landscaping. Whether it’s their first home, or they just finally have the time to putter around the yard, people want to beautify their outdoor space. So there are many common questions that get answered year after year, and we wanted to answer one here for you today. Can I prune in the summer?

Why We Prune

Pruning is done for many reasons, some of which affect the time of year when pruning should be done. You can prune to remove dead or diseased branches or prune to shape or dwarf the plant. In bushes, it’s especially common to thin out multiple trunks, like in a crêpe myrtle or a lilac. Mindful pruning on the part of the gardener will help trees and bushes stay healthy and strong.

When To Prune

If you’ve done any casual reading on pruning, you’ll have read that pruning is best done in the late winter after the plant is fully dormant. You might have easily gotten the impression that this is the only time that you should prune, but that is not true. Here are a few ‘rules of thumb’ to get you started on your pruning journey.

  • You can remove dead or diseased branches at any time of year. Also, branches that pose a hazard are best gotten rid of as quickly as possible, never mind whether the tree likes it.
  • Intensive pruning may take several years to accomplish and should be done in the winter.
  • When you plan to do substantial thinning or shaping, take no more than 25% of the total leaf surface. The trees need those leaves to breathe, and the more you take, the more shoots will pop up in the spring to replace the lost mass, so be conservative.
  • Summer pruning is used to slow growth. After the first flush of growth is finished, you can prune back the unwanted new shoots to direct the resources to the branches you do want. This is very common with fruit trees, where fewer, stronger, limbs are desirable.
  • If you have a summer-blooming variety, like crêpe myrtle, don’t prune in the summer or your plant may not bloom. Spring-blooming varieties can be pruned after the flowers fade.
  • Avoid pruning in the autumn. Fungal spores abound and may infect the open wounds on your trees.

How to Prune

Pruning is not an especially difficult process, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

For Shrubs:

  • It is best to remove individual branches, one by one, as it makes it easier to maintain the natural shape of your plant. Examine your plant, and look for dead, damaged, crowded branches or any branch that is not where you want it to be.
  • If a bud is facing out and in the opposite direction of the trunk, cut the bud back so that it will continue to grow in the correct, outward, direction.
  • Leave a maximum of 1/2 inch between the bud and where you plan on cutting the plant.
  • With respect to water distribution, try to angle your cuts so that water doesn’t flow towards the bud and leave it oversaturated.
  • If you are dealing with a large branch, prune it to a place where it meets another, connecting, branch.

For Trees:

  • For the most part, you will not be pruning the larger and established trees in your yards, but there might be times when you want to remove a dead, diseased, or broken limb.
  • To do this, prune your side branches back to the trunk of the tree until the point where you can see the inner rings of the branch. This stub leftover will yield a healthy recovery for the branch.
  • If you are running large branches that exceed 1 and 1/2 inches, it is best to use a saw. Both pruning and bow saws will be effective tools to do this. The way to go about mending these large branches is by conducting a three-part cut:
    • First Cut:
      • Underneath the branch, about 6-12 inches from the trunk, cut approximately one-third of the way through the branch.
    • Second Cut:
      • Cut 2-4 inches away from the initial cut. This will cause the branch to fall.
    • Third Cut:
      • Cut off the remaining stub all the way back to the trunk.

For Hedges:

  • Hedges require consistent pruning as they will grow faster than your other plants. You should begin pruning in the spring.
  • For deciduous plants, cut broken, dead, or out-of-place branches. The goal is to maintain the original shape of the hedge-similar to cutting shrubs.
  • For evergreens, use shears to manicure the hedge and reduce its shape and size back to its original form.

For Rose Bushes:

  • In order to restore that beautiful rose bush that you purchased a while ago, pruning is essential. Using pruners, cut all but four to six of the healthiest branches. The branches that you do cut should be trimmed down to a shallow and outward-facing bud.


Pruning prolongs the health of your plants and elevates the aesthetic appeal of your garden, so why stop there? Mulching is similar to pruning, in that it is a consistent process that maintains the health of your soil and plants, and the appearance of your landscape.

First, let’s clarify what exactly mulch is: a protective and nurturing layer of material covers topsoil. You should only use biodegradable and natural materials for your mulch, such as dry leaves, wood chips, shredded bark, grass clippings, and compost.

There are various benefits of mulch and practically no downside! First, mulch is great at retaining moisture which will help your new plants grow more easily, as well as sustain the current state of your established plants. Mulch will also act as a protective barrier that will lessen the evaporation that takes place as a result of the sun, so you will not have to use nearly as much water.

Another great perk of using mulch is that it hinders the formation and growth of weeds. The mulch will cover weeds that are beginning to or have already sprouted. This will make it difficult for the weeds to grow because they will not receive enough sunlight.

You can find our wide variety of mulches as well as a description of each type of mulch, a material calculator(to see how much mulch you need), and installation instructions using this link: JK Enterprise Mulch types.

Got any other pruning or mulch questions? Ask the experienced staff at JK Enterprise!