Pruning the monster

My ninebark is one of the most striking plants in my garden. You can see why here. The trouble is, although the tag says that it will be 4-5' tall and 4-5' wide, it's bigger than that. Much bigger.

Today it's time to get it back under control.

It's so large right now that it's blocking this pathway:

(To be fair, the overgrown greek oregano is also in the way.)

The shrub is also blocking this other path:

Yes, there's a little tunnel there, and I enjoy pushing through plants to see what's on the other side, but not everybody who comes into my garden likes doing that. So time to get out the pruners and get this back in bounds!

There are some woody plants that are a little picky about pruning (or so I've read), but this doesn't seem to be one of them. It's so vigorous, I'm not concerned about taking off too much or making any mistakes.

I'll start by chopping the branches that are blocking paths:

Here the oregano was cut back too. I still need to take a bit more off the ninebark here I think.

I always try to go a little further back into the plant when I prune. If I cut just where I wanted the plant to "end", in a couple of weeks I'll have to prune again. I'd rather have the plant grow into the space I want it to fill. I also try to cut "below" a place that I may have pruned the same branch a few years ago to take off more of the side branches that form.

So we're part of the way done. It's important when pruning to take a few steps back and look at the whole plant. That's the only way to see what branches still need to be pruned.

This side needs a lot of chopping!

One thing I noticed when pruning this is some of the branches appear to have reverted to the normal green coloration:

I'll take those off completely, as they ruin the look of the plant -- it's dark reddish-brown coloring is what  makes it so stunning.

A few more steps back and a lot more cutting, and I'm done!

My pathways are clear now too:

I may cut a few more branches in the next few days after I've looked at it for a while, or later in the summer if some branches have grown a lot more and are blocking the paths again.

I don't like pruning, and I definintly don't like a formal, tightly manicured look for my shrubs. I prefer a more natural, relaxed look usually, which also means less work.

Sometimes you have to get the pruners out to keep a plant in check though, but the results can really be worth the effort!

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