Robinson, M.L., O'Callaghan, A., and Anderson, J. 2014, Pruning Desert Shrubs in Southern Nevada-Type Climates, Extension, University of Nevada Reno, SP-14-13

Pruning is an important part of landscape maintenance. Pruning may be straightforward and quite simple. However, poor or incorrect pruning will often lead to serious problems, including premature death of the plant.

Pruning Desert Shrubs Pruning shrubs begins long before the clippers are taken out. It is important to choose the correct plant for the right place. Never plant a shrub, cactus or ornamental grass that reaches heights above what is desired at mature height. For example, if a 3-foot shrub is needed in front of a window, don’t plant one that reaches a height of 15 or 20 feet. Poor pruning of shrubs can cause many problems in the landscape. Long-term pruning into balls and squares produces plants with very little green or live leaves on the outer extremities, while the interior consists mostly of dead leaves and twigs. This form of pruning also causes problems when drastic size reduction must be done. It exposes the old woody interior, and in some cases the shrub does not rejuvenate. It may take some time for this stark barren interior to be covered with new growth. Overpruning also creates unnecessary yard waste.

New growth sprouts where the plant was cut (Figure 5). If a shrub is cut at the same spot over and over again, a live exterior and leafless interior will result. Correct pruning in a more natural manner is done by reaching into the plant’s interior and pruning off the longest branches to bring the overall plant down to the desired height. New sprouts will form where the cuts are made.

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