Pruning Spring Flowers

Here at Roanoke Landscapes we know how important flowering shrubs like azaleas, spirea, and rhododendrons are to a vibrant spring landscape. In order to achieve the best possible spring flower growth, occasionally pruning of shrubs is necessary. Pruning is a great (and easy) way to encourage new plant growth, maintain the size of plants, increase flowering, and limit dead and diseased growth. Spring shrubs (anything that flowers before the end of June) should be pruned promptly after flowering, since their flowers grow off dead wood from the previous season. Pruning later in the year (summer or fall) can kill future flower growth. So, here’s some quick tips for spring pruners looking to keep their landscapes fabulous for years to come.

What you’ll need: A set of sharp, clean pruning shears, some gloves, and (if you’re new to the whole pruning thing) a piece of ribbon or some paint to mark branches with so you can keep track of what needs to be cut and visualize your progress as you go.

Here are a few common spring shrubs in need of some seasonal TLC:


  1. Spirea: Spirea plants produce small, attractive clusters of colorful flowers. These shrubs need to be pruned immediately following the first spring bud. The shrub’s shape should be maintained via a light pruning of shoots and stems throughout the season. Stems on the lower part of the plant that flower sparsely can be trimmed back in the fall to produce new, healthy growth in the spring. A little trimming is worth keeping these bright, beautiful plants blooming healthfully.


  1. Quince: Quince is a drought-tolerant, deciduous shrub that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. It has thorny branches, so be careful when pruning! Wear long sleeves, gloves, and thick pants. This plant should be pruned immediately after spring flowers fade. To trim, cut dead and dying branches from the bottom of the bush, working your way to the overgrowth at the top of the plant. You can remove up to one-third of the branches to encourage new growth next season!


  1. Forsythia: Forsythia are large shrubs that grow bright yellow flowers. They are the perfect plant to welcome in the springtime! Forsythia grows very quickly and thus must be pruned to control rapid overgrowth. Prune in the spring right after the blooms fade. DO NOT trim into a formal hedge; forsythia naturally grows in an irregular arch. In large shrubs, cut 1/3-1/4 of old branches close to the ground. Pruning should be fairly vigorous, especially for older, overgrown plants. Younger plants require only occasional pruning of askew branches. Some scarce pruning can do wonders for your forsythia bushes in the spring!


  1. Azalea: Azaleas make any landscape pop with their large, billowing blooms. They need little care when established, but a bit of pruning goes a long way! Prune soon after they bloom in spring or early summer. During pruning, let azaleas retain their natural, beautiful shape. Remove long, stray shoots by pruning towards the middle of the plant, allowing sunlight to reach the inner blooms. Azaleas can grow rather quickly, but even the most drastically overgrown azalea can be restored with heavy pruning. Overgrown plants can be cut down to one foot in height, watered frequently, and fertilized to produce new, gorgeous blooms the following spring.

Species native to California, Oregon, Washington. Wonderfully fragrant! Only Rhododendron found west of the Mississippi Photographed at Strybing Arboretum, San Francisco

  1. Rhododendron: Rhododendrons have lush, colorful blooms that can brighten every landscape. Most rhododendrons only require slight, occasional pruning. These plants should be pruned before the last frost in spring (with Virginia’s unpredictable weather, that could be anytime from March to June!) Pruners should focus on trimming old, dead flowers and dead wood first. When trimming large, strong branches, trim no more than 15-20 inches off the top. Cut branches a quarter of an inch above the last leaf cluster you want to keep. Avoid heavy pruning if possible, since it can inhibit flower growth for several years!

This is just a short guide to spring pruning. For a more detailed look at pruning all kinds of gorgeous shrubs, check out this guide from Better Homes and Gardens. And, don’t forget, Roanoke Landscapes is always here to help your landscape look its best all year round!

Better Homes and Gardens Pruning Guide




Secrets To Landscape Success: Part 4

Study Your Landscape. Study Your Area. Know Your Climate.


It is best to look at your yard different times of the day. Just like you did from in the inside of your house look at all angles and different vantage points around the outside of your house.  Take particular attention in any space you may be spending a lot of time and have large focal pieces.  Even look in different weather conditions and think about the different times of the year.study2

An easy way to document this is by taking pictures of the different views, weather and times of day. This way you can go back and look and refer to your landscape plans and put the pictures to use to visualize this more. Especially for those who may not be as spatial as others. Meaning, those who can not look at something and see in their mind what it will be transformed into.


This will also allow you to see where shade will fall and where rain pools. That way you can use the plants accordingly in low-light areas and areas of more or less natural saturation. This makes choosing plants that are well adapted to your yard’s conditions and zoning. Here, ground coverings, such as Pachysandra, are used quite often especially since we have very angular yards sometimes with steep inclines.

Pachysandra ground covering

Secrets To Landscape Success: Part 3

The View. Something that is often easily overlooked in the design process.


Try sitting and looking out onto your landscape from every room in your home. Take note of what you see and then imagine what you WANT to see. Make sure to have plan views that show the inside looking out at different places in your home and different angles. You want your landscape to be just as pleasing from inside your home as it is from the outside of your home. You want the view to be spectacular.


This will help in creating a complete landscape plan. You may think something looks good on the outside but discover it blocks a little more light from the inside or detracts from the view.  This way you visualize all aspects of each part of the landscape plan before you’ve even started.

inside1 inside2

Secrets To Landscape Success: Part 2

Place Your Home In The Plans:


Your home is the largest focal point and thus must be included in your landscape planning. Your home and garden should work together in terms of style, scale, colors and materials. You can use trees to frame a house, but do not conceal it or overwhelm it. This will detract from the overall flow of your garden and diminish your curb appeal. You should use shrubs and flowers to create a welcoming approach to the entrance of your home. Create foundation plantings that are more than just a line of shrubs around the house — try varying levels of plants, deep borders and curves. Use seasonal colorful plants to add vibrant splashes of color to your garden landscape.


Outdoor Living Area

Day Two in a new twenty part series about how to successfully landscape your garden. For information about landscape planning you can email us at: Roanoke Landscapes


Secrets To Landscape Success: Part 1

Landscape Planning:

Bell IMG_5247

You start by planning and establishing the focal points. These can include trees, big shrubs and tall ornamental grasses, as well as structures such as a gazebo, archway, pond, trellis or statue. You place these first and the rest of your landscaping can be filled in around these large focal pieces. You must map out the focal points and large objects to make sure you have flow and harmony with your landscaping space using the elements of design. The elements of design will be highlighted throughout this series.



Day One in a new twenty part series about how to successfully landscape your garden. For information about landscape planning you can email us at: Roanoke Landcapes


Spring Turn-Ons: What you should know!

It is Time for Spring Turn-Ons!

It is that time of year where you begin to have your irrigations systems turned-on and checked for leaks and the back flow tests done!  It is important to have these done by professionals to ensure that your system is working properly and to fix any leaks that may have happened over the winter.

Make sure you know if your city requires a back flow test or not.  There are permits for these. Your irrigations specialists have the proper working knowledge of all regulations and will check for any leaks or broken heads. At this time they can repair or do any adjustments to any of the zones or heads.

Doing this spring cleaning for your irrigation system will prolong the life of the system, the watering efficiency which saves you time, water, and therefore, money. It is always recommended to hire a professional however, here are some helpful hints for all you DIY gurus which are in areas that a back flow test and permit are not required.

Hunter Industries Spring Start-Up Checklist:

Step 1

Open the system main water valve slowly to allow pipes to fill with water gradually. If these valves are opened too quickly, sprinkler main lines are subjected to high surge pressures, uncontrolled flow and water hammer, which may cause them to crack or burst.

Step 2

Verify the proper operation of each station valve by manually activating all zones from the controller.

Step 3

Walk through each station on the controller, checking for proper operation of the zone. Check for proper operating pressure (low pressure indicates a line break or missing sprinkler), proper rotation and adjustment of sprinkler heads, and adequate coverage. Check and clean filters on poorly performing sprinklers. Adjust heads to grade as necessary.

Step 4

Reprogram the controller for automatic watering. Replace the controller back-up battery if necessary.

Step 5

Uncover and clean the system weather sensor, if applicable.

Again, we highly recommend calling a professional, especially if you are unsure of the how-to or ins and outs of any system.  The professionals are experts in proper sprinkler system installation and layout, maintenance, and repair.  They are also very knowledgeable about the hydraulics, plant watering requirements, and the different types of soil.  The professionals skills will ensure a water-efficient and trouble-free system for many years.

If you are in the Virginia area you can call or email Roanoke Landscapes for your landscaping and irrigation needs.

Roanoke Landscapes
Professionalism. Integrity. Uncompromised Detail.

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