I already said February and March are good times to prune (except roses and spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs). So yesterday, that beautiful, sunny warm afternoon, I went outside and started re-shaping the cotoneaster hedge that borders my adventure garden.
I already got rid of half of the hedge a couple of years ago to make room for fruit-producing shrubs, but I did keep some of the hedge in the hard-to-reach corner of the yard and because I love the fall colour of cotoneasters so much. But I am not a hedge person. I will not be trimming a hedge multiple times over a year to keep it trim and neat. Too much work. I also prefer shrubs in a more natural form.
So how am I rejuvenating this hedge and keeping it low maintenance? It was very old and overgrown so last year at this time I hacked back more than 50% of the branches right at ground level - especially branches that were crooked and crossing over other ones. Over the course of last year's growing season, many thin new shoots grew up at the base of each shrub. I want to train only some of those to become new branches, so this year I cut most of those shoots back except for about 3-5 per shrub. I kept the thickest, straightest branches that were growing towards the outside of the shrub and were not crossing over any other branches, and got rid of the rest of the shoots.
There. I'm done taking care of that hedge for the year.
For way more details on pruning than I'm prepared to write about, check out Fine Gardening's online article.