Boost beauty of shrubs

By Melinda Myers

Garden columnist

Bring your overgrown lilacs, forsythia, mock orange, pieris and other spring flowering shrubs down to size while maintaining their natural beauty and spring floral display.

Prune spring blooming shrubs right after flowering for maximum flowering. These shrubs set their flower buds in summer so pruning at other times of the year reduces or eliminates the spring floral display.

Major pruning on these shrubs can also be done in late winter. It's easier to see what needs cutting and the plants respond well to pruning at this time of the year. You'll just eliminate some of the spring flowers.

Summer blooming shrubs like potentilla, beautyberry, and Annabelle-type hydrangeas flower on new growth. Prune these, when needed, in late winter or early spring before growth begins or anytime during the dormant season.

Make sure you have the proper tools and safety equipment before making the first cut. Protect your eyes and hands with safety glasses and gloves.

Then make sure your pruning tools are clean and sharp. Using the right pruning tool for the job helps ease muscle strain and fatigue while making proper cuts that close quickly. This will reduce the risk of insects and diseases moving into the plant.

Use bypass pruners to cut small stems that are 1/2-inch diameter or less. These have two sharp blades, like scissors, and make clean cuts that close quickly.

Employ a bypass lopper like Corona Tools' ClassicCUT SL15167 with soft grips that fit well and will cut limbs up to 1 inches in diameter. Loppers have long handles that give you greater leverage and extend your reach.

You will need a pruning saw when doing renewal pruning. A short-bladed saw makes it easier to access and cut larger stems to ground level.

Look for a saw, like the RazorTOOTH Saw RS16150, with a pull stroke cutting action and ergonomic handle. It makes fast and easy cuts and minimizes hand fatigue.

Once you have your tools, you are ready to start pruning. Reduce the height and leggy growth on overgrown suckering shrubs over the next three years.

This type of renewal pruning is better for the plant and most gardeners find it less stressful for them as well.

Remove one third of the largest and oldest stems to ground level each year for three years with renewal pruning. If your shrub has 12 stems, you will prune four of these back to the ground this year, four more the following year, and remove the last four older stems the third year.

By the end of the three years, you have a smaller shrub with leafy stems from ground to tip and flowers at a level you can enjoy.

Start by removing any crossed or dead branches. Disinfect tools with a 70 percent alcohol or disinfectant spray between cuts, if you suspect the plant is suffering from disease. This will help reduce the risk of spreading the disease throughout the plant.

You can stop pruning at this point and continue renewal pruning next year in late winter. If you decide to continue, remove a few more of the older stems to ground level. Taking these stems back to the ground encourages new growth at the base of the plant.

Minimize additional pruning at this point. You can reduce the height on any wayward branches as needed.

Make your cut on a slight angle above an outward facing bud or stem. This encourages growth away from the center of the plant, reducing the risk of crossing branches in the future.

Maintain the size and prevent leggy growth with regular pruning in the future. Just remove a few older stems to ground level every year or two.

Investing a bit of pruning throughout the life of your plants helps boost their heath, beauty, and your enjoyment.

Melinda Myers is the author of more than 20 gardening books, includingSmall Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses "How to Grow Anything" DVDseriesand the nationally syndicatedMelinda's Garden MomentTV and radio program. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor forBirds & Blooms magazine and her website ishttp://www.MelindaMyers.com.

CLARION - Butler Health System Clarion Hospital is offering an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Course from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday beginning Aug. 30, and includes one Saturday class from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Ralston Hall at Penn West (formerly Clarion University).

KNOX - A car cruise will be held to benefit the Heavenly Gaits Therapeutic Riding Center. The car show will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 9 at Wolf's Camping Resort, 308 Timberwolf Run in Knox.

DENVER - UGI Utilities, Inc. announces its purchased gas cost rates increased June 1. An additional increase is projected on Dec. 1.

EMLENTON - Bitcoin, blockchain, cryptocurrency what do these terms have to do with the Scrubgrass power plant? A free informational meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 21, at Scrubgrass Grange, to learn about this mining activity.

PITTSBURGH - Girls in grades kindergarten through 12 and adults are invited to join Girl Scouts by participating in an early-registration program with Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania.

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. - Private First Class Hunter Craddock, of Clarion, graduated from 701st Basic Combat Training and Infantry One Station Unit Training, Military Police School on Thursday, May 19.

TIONESTA - The Forest County Business Alliance is inviting individuals in the area who create, build, craft, make music, tinker and fix things to give their opinion about the possibility of opening a maker space in the Tionesta area by completing a short survey.

SHIPPENVILLE - A car show will be held to benefit Clarion Cancer Center Patient Care and Sunshine Fund. The car show will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at the Clarion airport located at 395 Airport Road, Shippenville.

CLARION Matthew Lerch, executive vice president-wealth management and branch manager of Janney Montgomery Scott, LLC in Clarion has been named to a second term on Janney's Branch Manager Leadership Council.

COOKSBURG Western Pennsylvania Cares for Kids Child Advocacy Center will hold its 13th annual duathlon, 5K race and community walk from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 16, at Cook Forest State Park (Shelter 2). Day of race registration starts at 8 a.m.; duathlon starts at 9 a.m. and 5K start…

Without doubt, writing is an art. It's like composing a piece of music, but instead of musical notes, we arrange words in ways they harmonize and best carry our intended message across to our readers.

POLK - Clarion County skeet shooters are invited to participate in the Grove City Veterans and Patriots Group annual Sporting Clays Fun Shoot June 18 at the Sandycreek Conservancy located outside of Polk.

LAMARTINE - The "Team Cheers" memorial cruise-in will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 12 (rain or shine), at Salem Community Park, located at 57 Community Road in Lamartine.

CLARION - Readers from ages two through 12 will dive into the ocean depths this summer as The Clarion Free Library presents "Oceans of Possibilities" during their annual summer library program.

CLARION - Clarion Blueprint Community, Inc. is sponsoring the first "Clarion Summer Fest" which includes a festival event to be held on the first weekend of June.

Put rainwater to use in your landscape with the help of rain barrels. This centuries old technique allows you to capture rainfall to use for watering ornamental gardens and containers.

HAWTHORN - The fifth annual Kayak and Canoe Poker Run sponsored by the Hawthorn Volunteer Fire Company will be held on Sunday, June 5. The launch will run between 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

CLARION The Clarion Area Chamber of Business and Industry has announced the 11th annual "Clarion Cheers and Beers Walk," to be held Friday, June 17. Sponsored by Northwest Bank, this popular event will once again take place in downtown Clarion.

COOKSBURG - The Clarion Conservation District (CCD) hosted their fifth annual Earth Day celebration on Friday, April 22, in Cook Forest with about 100 local high school students.