Renewal Pruning Guide

Posted on: 14 April 2021

Do you have small multi-stemmed trees and shrubs on your property that are beginning to look overgrown and weak? Perhaps they contain a lot of dead wood or the old wood is no longer producing pretty flowers or healthy leaves. Renewal pruning is a way to help rejuvenate these plants so they regain their former beauty.

1. Basics

Renewal pruning isn't meant for all trees. It is primarily used for multi-stemmed trees that fall somewhere between a large shrub and a small tree. Lilacs, hydrangeas, hazel, and barberry are just a few varieties that respond well to this process. When properly done, renewal pruning can't be completed in a single season. The process takes several years. The goal is to completely renew the plant without stressing it out to the point it becomes susceptible to disease or pests. Further, when done properly the plant won't be an eyesore at any point during the renewal pruning process.

2. Benefits

One of the most immediate benefits is in appearance. When an old shrubby tree is filled with dead or unproductive wood it simply looks bad in the landscape. This can cause the healthy wood to decay if action isn't taken. In the case of taller hedges and freestanding plants, there is also the danger of splitting. Dead and sparsely leafed-out wood adds weight to the plant, but there are no leaves to help provide nutrients for strong growth. Eventually, the plant may split apart and some stems and narrow trunks may actually break apart and cause damage to the remaining stems.

3. Method

To fully renew the plant will take three years on average. This type of pruning is done at the beginning of the growing season when the buds begin to swell but before it begins to flower. In the first year, remove about a third of the oldest stems. This includes dead stems. Older stems tend to be thicker. They may also have fewer buds or they may only have leaf buds but no flower buds. Cut these stems back to the ground or to where they join a thicker trunk. Repeat the process in the second year, removing only a third of the oldest stems and those that are dead or damaged. When you do this in the third year, you will be removing the last of the old stems so only the lush, healthy newer stems from the last couple of years remain.

Contact a tree trimming service if you need more assistance.