Texas sage shrub

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take another photo of a landscape I passed by in a neighborhood where I had just finished up a landscape consultation. I was shocked at the mushroom shaped shrubs.

The Pitfalls of Shrub Pruning Mistakes

Sadly, I often see examples of truly ‘interesting’ or should I say ‘bad’ pruning.  I drove by this landscape and then made a U-turn so that I could take a quick photo…

improper shrub pruning

Shrub pruning

I don’t know about you, but these Texas sage shrubs look like mushrooms, don’t you think?

Sadly, pruning these beautiful flowering shrubs this way robs them of their flowers, increases maintenance, creates dead wood, and shortens their life.

Misguided Pruning in Strange Shapes

While there are quite a few shrubs that take well to repeated formal pruning – doing this to flowering shrubs should be avoided.

I must admit that I have seen Texas sage and other flowering shrubs pruned into many different shapes…

But, let me be frank – shrubs aren’t meant to be cupcakes, frisbees, or gumdrops

Why You Should Avoid Improper Shrub Pruning

Here are just a few reasons why…

1. Energy Deprivation

It removes the leaves needed for the shrub to make energy for itself

2. Increased Growth and Maintenance

Excessive pruning actually makes your shrubs grow faster, which equals MORE maintenance

3. Water Demands

Shrubs pruned often require more water as they constantly work to replace foliage lost

4. Shortened Lifespan

Continued shearing will shorten the lifespan of your shrubs

5. Aesthetic Impact

Green ‘blobs’ are ugly compared to beautiful flowering shrubs

Join Our Online Shrub Pruning Workshop

If you are tired of the time and money it takes to maintain flowering shrubs the ‘wrong’ way. I invite you to join me in my online shrub pruning workshop where I will teach you the right way to prune.

online shrub pruning workshop

Imagine your outdoor space filled with beautiful, flowering shrubs instead of green ‘balls’. Believe it or not, the shrubs in the photo above are the SAME plant – they have just been maintained differently. The one on the left takes much more money and time and the other thrives with pruning once (or twice) a year.

In my online class, I show you how to work with your landscaper or how you can take care of your shrubs yourself. Got ‘green balls’ already in your landscape? I’ll teach you how to rejuvenate them and the best time of year to do it.

So, ditch the ‘green blobs’ in your yard and learn how to prune with confidence – it’s much easier than you think. Learn more here and what students have to say about the class.

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
8 replies
  1. Shirley Fox
    Shirley Fox says:

    That's so sad. I love Texas sage when it flowers and to rob it of flowers is unfortunate.

    I've seen it sheared into hedges many times but not shapes like that.

  2. David Cristiani
    David Cristiani says:

    They look really odd next to the cactus and ocotillo left naturally – like something from a kids fantasy book. I wonder if the same man hours could have been taken from ugly, counterproductive tasks (as per your note of less blooms), and reallocated to something else on their property with positive horticultural results? But it's still funny, since it isn't my work!

  3. RichNV
    RichNV says:

    Seems like this is an all too common practice even with so-called professional landscapers who practice this in our entire HOA area. I refer to this as butchering. They should work in a meat market. You would think they would know better. Do they really not have enough work to do, or are they just justifying their worth? Hopefully the HOA is not requiring this to be done.
    What's even funnier is homeowners pay to have them do this on their own property. Next door to me, a landscape service butchers an African Sumac into a 4-foot shrub. Just incredibly stupid beyond words.

  4. Debbie
    Debbie says:

    When we moved to phoenix 5 years ago from Washington State the two things we noticed was how many people hire their yard care and the mutilated pruning of most bushes. How most of the sages in HOAs near us are done they remind me of giant pushpins. Actually prefer the mushrooms to that but i am more a fan of cottage garden style and minimal pruning in my landscapes.

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