Why Does Coastal Gardens Hand Prune Rather than Shear Plants on Palm Beach Properties?

While one may think that words like “prune,” “trim,” “shear,” and “cut” are interchangeable, for landscape professionals, they refer to very different things. Coastal Gardens Professionals, for instance, pride ourselves on hand pruning the Palm Beach properties we help maintain.

But why do we hand prune rather than rely on shearing techniques?

In this article, we will go over the differences between pruning and shearing, why we choose to prune the plants on the Palm Beach properties we manage and more.

A Coastal Gardens employee uses a hedge shears to shear a formal hedge on a Palm Beach property.

What is Shearing?

Shearing removes the outer edges of a tree, shrub, or plant to create a uniform edge or a particular shape.

What are the Positives of Shearing Plants?

Shearing is a quick and easy way to control the new growth on a shrub. Shearing requires little training and can be done by almost anyone.

Shearing is appropriate when used on formal hedges, but this cutting method can harm other kinds of plants.

What are the Negatives of Shearing Plants?

While shearing may be faster, it can also damage the plant. Shrubs that are regularly sheared end up with heavy growth on the outside of the plant but sparse growth on the interior of the plant.

Shearing does not consider a plant’s natural growth pattern, new versus old growth, or the overall long-term health of the plant.

Since the new growth is continually sheared off, a plant may overproduce fresh leaves and branches, which means it needs to be cut back more frequently. This repeating pattern of new growth being cut off indiscriminately is why sheared plants end up with dead interiors and heavy development on the exterior.

With flowering shrubs, shearing can prevent flowering or can significantly shorten the flowering period.

Shearing can also:

  •  Make trees shrubs “leggy”
  • Weaken the shrub or tree
  • Make trees and shrubs more susceptible to disease
  • Make trees and shrubs more likely to suffer from insect infestations
  • Eventually, kill the tree or shrub

How Does Shearing Harm Plants?

The reason that shearing produces so many negative results is that it cuts off most of the new growth. New growth is essential to plant life as it is how the plant receives energy or food through the process of photosynthesis.

When new growth is consistently sheared off, it is cutting off a plant’s food and the way a plant creates new energy.

Interestingly, most of the energy created goes to the root system, so shearing isn’t just harming the leaves and branches that are chopped off, it’s harming the entire plant.

A Coastal Gardens employee hand-prunes a large plant on a Palm Beach property while on a ladder.

What is Pruning?

Pruning is selectively cutting branches to a bud or a lateral branch, the trunk, or the ground.

Pruning can be done to:

  • encourage new growth,
  • thin a shrub or tree
  • remove dead or broken branches
  • create different shapes
  • train a plant or vine along a wall or trellis (see our article on espaliers)
  • and more

What are the Positive Aspects of Pruning?

While shearing consists of cutting back a plant or hedge whenever there is new growth, pruning allows one to work with the plant rather than against it.

For instance, if a flowering shrub produces blooms, it is best to prune the shrub after it is done flowering.

When done correctly, pruning works with the plant’s structure and growth. Pruning can be used to remove dead or damaged sections, to remove infested areas to prevent further infestations, to create different shapes, and more.

What are Some of the Negatives of Pruning?

Pruning takes more time, knowledge, and consistency.

If pruning is done incorrectly, it can do more harm than good. Incorrect pruning methods, such as topping, can weaken a tree, create more pruning issues in the future, and often shorten a tree’s lifespan.

However, if pruning is done correctly, it benefits the plant, shrub, vine, or tree.

Two photos of Coastal Gardens employees pruning and shaping plants on Palm Beach properties.

Why Does Coastal Gardens Hand Prune Properties?

You now know the many benefits that pruning has over shearing. But why does Coastal Gardens insist on hand-pruning the Palm Beach properties that it maintains?

Shearing is much faster than pruning, which can be a laborious process. Shearing also requires much less skill than pruning.

Despite this, Coastal Gardens takes the health and beauty of the properties into consideration. We want the properties to not only look beautiful but to be healthy.

By hand pruning the properties we maintain, we know that the plants, shrubs, trees, and vines will:

  • Be healthier
  • Produce more flowers
  • Suffer from fewer pests and diseases
  • Need fewer pesticides
  • Grow in the shape or design we train them to grow
  • Benefit local birds and pollinators
  • Look more polished and well-maintained
  • And more!

Hand pruning plants such as topiaries and hedges allows us to enhance and sustain the look of neat, clean edges and well-formed shapes.

A Coastal Gardens employee uses a hand pruner to cut a section from a tree on a Palm Beach property.

What are Some of the Pruning Methods Coastal Gardens Utilizes?

There are many methods of pruning that can produce a desired result.

Some of the pruning services that our Estate Gardeners use include:

  • Crown reduction
  • Canopy restoration
  • Corrective pruning
  • Pruning for shape and fullness
  • Palm maintenance
  • Shaping topiaries
  • Hedge reduction and trimming
  • Root pruning (and root barriers)
  • Storm damage pruning
  • Large limb removal
  • Formative pruning for young trees
  • Tree safety pruning
  • Pruning for code compliance

You can learn more about types of pruning on our Services page under Tree Pruning.

Can a Plant or Shrub that was Sheared be Saved?

Some types of flowering shrubs can benefit from a type of pruning called rejuvenation or renewal pruning. Rejuvenation involves cutting a shrub back to the ground (or close to the ground) and essentially restarting the plant’s growth.

If a shrub has a dead interior and a lack of flowers from too much shearing, rejuvenation pruning may help.

However, if a shrub is too badly damaged or if it is not a type of shrub that can be rejuvenation pruned, cutting it to the ground may kill the shrub.

A Palm Beach property maintained by Coastal Gardens with a hedge, palms, and trees near a tennis court.

Contact Coastal Gardens for Your Palm Beach Pruning Needs

Coastal Gardens Professionals can handle all of your pruning needs, from formal hedges to trees and palms.

We offer a wide range of options for caring for and maintaining Palm Beach properties.

A healthy and beautiful landscape starts with the quality service that Coastal Gardens can bring to your Palm Beach property.

CALL US TODAY At 561-308-7604

Estate landscape Services

For Fine Properties in Palm Beach

With Coastal Gardens, you can rest easy knowing that your property is taken care of by a dedicated team of estate landscape professionals who truly care about creating and maintaining a dazzling outdoor space you can be proud of.