Fall pruning can be done to many plants to improve their appearance and health next spring.  Perennial plants benefit the most from fall pruning.  Cutting down perennial plants in the fall will get them ready for spring growth.  Fall pruning of perennials can be done once the plant wilts and dies back.  Some perennials that turn early are hostias, day lilies and ornamental grasses.  All of these plants prune well in the fall.  We recommend a fall pruning of ornamental grasses if you are not interested in maintaining a winter interest.  If you just want to get your landscape beds cleaned up, then it is ok to cut your ornamental grasses down to about 4 inches.  Doing this will allow for some protection of the plant when it starts growing again in the spring.  Shrubs can also use fall pruning.  Depending on the variety of your plant, most shrubs can be trimmed in the fall.  Waiting till the leaves have all dropped allows you to see the form of the plant better.  You are able to visualize the shape of the plant better.  This also helps you identify any diseased or damaged branches on the plant that may need to be removed.  If you have a spring-flowering shrub, fall pruning is not recommended.

Fall Pruning

Fall pruning for trees.

Late fall or early winter is a great time to trim your trees.  Waiting until the tree loses all of its leaves helps you identify any branches that need to be removed.  Good examples of branches that need to be trimmed include: branches that are rubbing on each other causing bark wounds, branches that are growing in hazardous way or branches that have damage or disease.  Fall pruning of trees in the fall or early winter will minimize some chances of insect damage because of the cooler temperatures and lack of insect movement around the plant.