Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pruning Azaleas



Last spring I had so many projects to tackle in the yard that pruning the azaleas and lilacs were pretty low on the priority list. By the time I worked my way down the list to them I was afraid it was too late in the season to prune. According to the Azalea Society of America , http://www.azaleas.org/, Azaleas begin to set their next year's buds soon after the current season's are finished. I didn't want to risk losing next year's blooms so I left them alone.
While I am glad I did because this year's bloom was really spectacular, the bushes were very misshapen. As soon as the flowers began to brown I got out the hand pruners and hedge clippers. I started by clipping by hand the longest branches down to the general length of the rest. This allowed me to get a better idea of the bush's natural shape.

The bushes in my yard are in a row along the property line. I wanted to keep them fairly close in size but since my garden style is fairly relaxed I wasn't going for the more formal look of a perfectly trimmed hedge.
The electric hedge clippers would be the quickest tool for the job. I went down each side of the hedge from bush to bush being sure to keep each one even with the next. The tops of the bushes were very different heights so I just trimmed the top of each one so it looked neat. I trimmed the taller ones more that the shorter ones so that after a few season they will even out.

To give the hedge a neat appearance I removed the turf around the bushes. To keep the grass roots from spreading right back around the bush, I edged around the bed with a straight edged shovel; this breaks the runners under the ground that would soon become new blades.

Azaleas require a fair amount of water while they are setting their buds so occasional watering in the early summer may be required to keep them evenly moist. Mulching can help with moisture level and gives the bed a finished look.

Photos by Brandie Shaw

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