A focused blur image of a sunflower that is not its best anymore - How and When to Remove Tired or Unfulfilling Plants

How and When to Remove Tired or Unfulfilling Plants

How and When to Remove Tired or Unfulfilling Plants… Given all the hours of labour we sink into the creation of our gardens, it can be difficult to admit when changes have to be made, or when old, withered sections need to be removed. Maybe the hydrangea or rhododendron is no longer flowering, maybe the june berry tree (Amelanchier lamarckii) has endured one too many dry summers, perhaps the honeysuckle vine is growing past its limits. Whatever the reason, it is sometimes an inevitable part of the process that old, tired or unfulfilling plants must be cut away, dug up or trimmed back in order to make way for new additions, or simply just to keep your garden in the best possible condition.


Since you’ve no doubt heard of the importance of removing old or dying plants from your garden, what may not be as clear is the reasons why this can be of benefit to your garden as a whole. As summer ends and autumn / fall begins, even gardens in a moderate climate are at risk of diseases which spread during harsh winter months; iris leaf spot, black spot on rose and canker are all common afflictions which can ruin even the best-laid garden. Taking pre-emptive steps before colder months to clear overgrowth or older stems will better allow new shoots to take their place come spring.

Beyond questions of horticultural health, it is equally as important to consider your personal reasons for wanting to remove these tired old plants. No matter how proud we might be of the work we undertook to get our gardens to the desired state, it is natural for our desires to change over time. Our interests develop as new plants with enticing colours and shapes come to our attention, and before we know it, a plan is being formulated to alter entirely the garden design. However reluctant you might be to uproot and move on after all that work, just remember that the end result will be just as if not more satisfying.


It can be difficult to judge when the best time to undertake removal actions can be. More often than not, it depends on the model of your garden or the primary features within it. Perennial gardens for example; being those plants which grow in beds and borders while not being trees, shrubs or bulbs, can only be refreshed or revamped through the removal of those existing plants. The process for removing plants in these types of gardens should usually be done in spring months; April or May, but this may differ from species to species.

Tree and shrub removal can be a more challenging endeavour, mainly because of their size and the propensity for such things to suffer damage from storms and diseases. The longer removal process should be taken into consideration when allotting a time-frame for the job; in some cases, it may even be necessary to employ professional help, such as through hiring the services of a qualified tree surgeon.

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