Cutting and trimming in mediterranean garden in Languedoc South of France

Starting the trimming season

It is February and beautiful outside and my fingers are itching to get going in the garden. It’s too early to plant but I can start trimming some shrubs. There are two small olive trees that are overgrown with inner branches actually growing backwards on themselves. As they have been planted in half-shade they’re also “stretching” towards the light and growing lopsided. And there’s a Pittosporum tobira that has become a gigantic twisty jungle of branches and is darkening our neighbor’s terrace.

Trimming shrubs is actually not that complicated. Handymen (and even some gardeners) that are hired for trimming tend to just position their tools and shorten the whole shrub from the top. That’s fast and easy but it doesn’t do much to correct a structure that’s overgrown. On the contrary, if a shrub is continually only cut from the top it will form lots of new twigs on top and look healthy on the outside but on the inside it will be completely bare.

So you have to take your time and step back every now and then to see what needs cutting next. Start with one side and work your way around. As you begin working with the plant you will start to see what you need to do next.

With shrubs that are overgrown it is important to get a good basic structure back by taking out all the branches that are old or dead, that are twisted, that grow too close together, or that grow towards the center of the plant. Some branches need to be taken out completely, where they come out of the earth or the main trunk. Some are taken partially above an “eye” to encourage regrowth and branching out. Make sure your scissors and saw are clean and sharp and don’t be too scared – things will grow back soon even if you should make a mistake.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *