Pruning spirea

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A line of spirea, variety unsure, trimmed to half its original size.

Pruning shrubs is pretty satisfying. Like getting your hair cut or teeth cleaned. I sort of dread all three, but it feels so good after.

Every shrub has its own pruning protocol, but this past weekend I pruned my spirea and this is an easy shrub to do, especially before it leaves out.

You can prune spirea all the way to the ground but that’s a little aggressive for my taste, so I cut it back uniformly to half its size, while also pruning out especially old, thick and gnarly stems. The shrubs will have a fresh, neat appearance all season from this one task.

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Spirea: A humble shrub with spectacular color. The deer tend to leave it alone and it will take quite a good amount of shade.
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A freshly pruned spirea waiting to explode into splendor.

I use an electric hedge trimmer, the kind that looks like a sawfish, and I make gentle repetitive passes over the shrubs, taking off an inch or two with each one. Occasionally, a tough old branch will stop me in my tracks, but I unplug, clear it from the blade, and keep going.

Pruning shrubs is instantly gratifying and I enjoy the challenge of striking the perfect balance between naturalized and nurtured. Trimmed and wild. Practice helps and spirea is the perfect shrub to cut your teeth on. It’s very forgiving and benefits from any degree of haircut you give it.

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A mass of spirea has an almost native look to it and offers you a dependable crop of flowers.
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