The Natural Look

Trim for Natural Looking Landscape 

by Mike Dooley

Ever since the lowly boxwood came on the horticultural market, well-meaning homeowners have fallen in love with the shape of the box and the ball.

The shape of the ball rarely occurs in natural shrubs, and the box shape just doesn’t exist. So why do we use these shapes when pruning our shrubs? Freud probably has an answer but I don’t.

If you want to lower your maintenance and have a “natural” looking landscape, let me suggest that you only trim spring blooming shrubs once per year in the fall. Trim fall blooming shrubs in spring.

When you do the annual trim job make sure that you trim heavily enough to last the year. The following is a list of common plants and the proper shapes to use as a guideline.

DOME SHAPED (wider at bottom)
Upright Rosemary
Blue Mist Spirea
Indian Hawthorn
Crimson Barberry
Grey and Parney Cotoneaster
Fern Bush
Turpentine Bush
Russian Sage

VASE SHAPED (remove lower foliage)
Crape Myrtle
Rose of Sharon
Hawthorn Trees
Desert Willow
Butterfly Bush
Most fruit trees

LOLLYPOP SHAPED (Do not cut the top out of these trees!)
Purple Plum
Flowering Pear

Now comes the argument: Trim the following plants as little as possible. The reason is simple. I want you to pick plants that fit the space that you put them in and you want them to look natural! When you start trimming these plants into the box shape, you take a natural plant and make it high maintenance and formal.



P.S. Don’t trim boxwood into a “box,” either.

Happy Gardening!