To Prune Or Not To Prune Garden Plants


I’m a gardener but not much of a pruner. Don’t get me wrong. I do prune some, when it’s necessary, but other than that I tend to let things run their course in the garden. 

To Prune or Not to Prune

Not to sound like a total pruning grouch or anything, but I just don’t believe there’s any point to it for most plants – I stress the word most here. Many plants actually benefit from pruning. That being said, there are also benefits to letting plants grow. Take a look around at plants growing in their natural settings. Do they get pruned often, if at all? Likely not. And yet, they’re still healthy, growing and blooming as nature intends, not as we want them to. For me, this is how plants in the garden should be (within reason, of course).

As I said before, I prune garden plants when it’s necessary. Not for sport or just to have something to do. I have nothing against removing wayward branches from shrubs or trees when allowing them to grow means I’ll have to duck underneath just to take a stroll in the garden. I see nothing wrong with cutting or trimming something to maintain shape or height provided it’s nothing extreme. I tend to leave my perennials alone, with just a little deadheading now and then. Most don’t require it anyway. I’d rather let the spent flowers and seedheads remain for birds and other wildlife to forage on. This is one of the biggest benefits to letting plants grow.

When I do prune in my garden, it usually takes place in spring, although occasional trimming here and there may happen at any time. Cutting plants can stimulate new growth, and at the wrong time if you’re not careful. I wouldn’t want to cut back something in fall, for example, only to have it grow new leaves that die off in a cold snap. Still, even in spring you need to be cautious. Cold snaps happen. I’m not a big fan of pruning multiple plants at once either. I’ve seen many people do this. It goes without saying that without cleaning your pruning tools, the spread of potential plant diseases is inevitable. And if not pruned correctly, or if you over-prune, you’re only causing more damage. There’s just so many rules to follow and too many things that can go wrong. That’s why I’m a natural kind of girl living in my natural garden world. Just let them be.

Yes, it’s wild and carefree. And yes, it looks a bit untamed at times, but leaving the garden to nature makes it a more sustainable environment. The birds and local wildlife have plenty of food and shelter, the beneficial insects too. All of which take care of any pests lurking about. Besides some trimming, pruning in my garden is a necessary evil that only occurs when it’s absolutely required. Otherwise, I’m happy to let my beautifully chaotic garden grow as nature intended.


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