Category Archives: Pruning Modern Landscape Plants

Pruning Strappy Leaf Plants – Part 2

Pruning Strappy Leaf Plants – Part 2

Even with this selection of extremely low maintenance plants, it’s inevitable that some pruning will be needed. These tips give some often eye catching pruning techniques that will keep your landscape from looking hacked at.

Pruning Strappy Leaf Plants

BABY BLISS® Dianella revoluta ‘DTN03’ PBR

An excellent garden or mass planting choice for low blue foliage. Works well all over Australia, but avoid using in depressed areas that get extra wet. It does well in dry situations. Further south where humidity is lower, it can work in depressed spots as long as they are not permanently wet.

• Mass spring flowers

• Vivid blue foliage

• Tough little plant

• Very frost tolerant

• Non invasive


Prune back every 2 to 3 years. Cut back to half way on mass planting areas. For gardens older leaves can be removed if that is preferable. For a more vivid blue colour use 8 to 12 months slow release fertiliser.

FLAMIN’® Phormium tenax ‘PHOS3’ PBR

A vibrant and midsized Phormium.

• More vibrant colour than other single colour Phormiums

• Mid sized

• Tougher than other purperea types

• Grows as well as green Phormiums


In gardens remove older leaves if ever needed. On roadsides, prune after 4 to 5 years if it gets too high for line of sight reasons or if it needs rejuvenating. It works well with out fertiliser, but will look more vibrant if 8 to 12 month slow release fertiliser is used.

SWEET MIST® Phormium tenax ‘PHOS2’ PBR

The richest colour and most dense, compact Phormium in Australia.

• Small

• Rich colour

• Stronger grower than Elfin


For gardens, if Sweet Mist ever gets discoloured foliage simply pull out dry looking bits. For mass planting like roadsides, the new foliage will after a period grow over the older looking foliage, so pruning should only be needed after 5 to 7 years. For a richer colour fertilise with an 8 to 12 month slow release fertiliser.

Click here for a whole lot more of these pruning tips…







Pruning Young Trees – Part 2 of Pruning Modern Landscape Plants

Pruning young trees

Part 2 of Pruning Modern Landscape Plants

By Todd Layt

Understanding how to correctly prune trees is a lot more complicated than pruning the smaller plants as shown in part one of this article. Get pruning a small plant wrong, and the plant can be harmed. Get pruning a tree wrong; life and property can be devastated. That’s why part two of this article comes with an important disclaimer. This is more about pruning trees when they are small, and not large. That should be done by an expert, but even small trees need to be pruned correctly, otherwise they grow up to be dangerous big trees. If you are in any way unsure, seek professional advice.

Big trees can be made to look like shrubs or dense smaller trees by special pruning techniques. Sometimes it pays to consider coppicing and pollarding on some trees and even a few shrubs. If the plant is cut back close to the ground it is called coppicing. If that process takes place further up the trunk, then it’s called pollarding. For some tired old trees this can breathe life back into them. It can also make an average looking healthy tree look amazing.

The success rate of this type of operation depends on tree type. Some die easily, and others have high success rates. Coppicing can allow certain large or medium trees to be used in smaller gardens and landscapes. The fresh new foliage produced can be super clean and vibrant. This technique is regularly used for producing cut foliage. Pollarding needs to be done with far more care, as it can produce dangerous trees if they are let grow out in the future. Eucalyptus types such as pulverulenta, perriniana, cinerea, and cladoclayx have responded well to coppicing, providing beautiful green, silver grey to in the case of Vintage Red, even vivid red foliage.

The best time to coppice a tree is mid to late Spring, and in some regions summer. It’s best to make sure the tree is healthy and fertilised before attempting this. Most Australian native shrubs such as Calistemon do not like coppicing, but real research needs to be done on different species. I have had some success coppicing some Callistemon species, but lots of failures with others. Some Grevillea types for example also respond to pollarding. It is best to regularly prune these types of native shrubs and trees, although a hard prune via coppicing is sometimes the only option other than replanting. In this case what have you got to lose?

It’s important in pruning young trees to…read more

Click here for part 1 of this article Pruning Modern Landscape Plants







Pruning Modern Landscape Plants

Pruning Modern Landscape Plants

By Todd Layt

Pruning ideas including utilizing modern machinery for efficient pruning

Whether it’s a tree, a shrub, a ground cover, a grass or strappy leaf plant, pruning is eventually required for all in an ornamental landscape. Modern landscape plants have been bred for less pruning, but with modern equipment should we really be pruning less? What are the best techniques and equipment for each plant category? This issue we look at ground covers, shrubs, grasses and strappy leaf plants. Next issue we look at tree pruning including coppicing.

Working our way up from ground covers to small trees, our modern ground covers are often more dense than landscape ground covers of the past. Breeders over the last 20 years have released many plants with shorter internodes. Grevillea groundcovers have become more prostrate, and there are now even dense prostrate Westringia ground covers. More prostrate will mean less vertical pruning, but keep an eye on the spread of these modern ground covers. Keeping them regularly in check by edging there lateral growth is essential, but with modern pruning equipment’s increased efficiency and ease of use why stop there. More frequent top pruning will result in tidier plants. Some groundcovers benefit from running a mower or brush cutter over them once a year.

In the USA in Texas, you can drive through suburbs in winter and see most of the Liriope, Mondo, and vine type plants like Asian Jasmine cut back with a lawn mower or brush cutter. Soon after in mid spring drive by and you will see vibrant clean foliage ground covers throughout Texas. Maybe it’s time for Australian maintenance companies to consider similar techniques. Vines particularly left unpruned for many years generally become unattractive. They may harbor wasps and rodents, experience foliage and branch dieback, and lose their landscape effectiveness. Prune out the top one-third of overgrown or elongated stems. Prune old mature stems that are declining in vigour by one-third or even more. Winter is the best time. Make sure the mower or brush cutter blades are sharp.

On the other hand, many modern ground cover plants may not require regular pruning to survive or to look reasonable, but to look spectacular or to achieve a more formal look, light pruning 4 to 6 times per year can produce amazing results. A couple of examples explain best. Grevillea juniperina or the popular Westringia groundcover Mundi can be pruned once per year for a native finish, or pruned 4 to 6 times per year for a tidy modern clean finish. In summer if you prune every month and a half, the finish is amazing, akin to a manicured lawn. Treat these natives like some exotics, and you get a more formal finish. Never prune back hard in summer as this can hurt the plant, but regular light tip pruning can be done year round in most parts of Australia. These days an argument could be made that regular light pruning with quick efficient machinery is just like regularly mowing the lawn.

Strappy Leaf plants and ornamental grasses are a major component of our modern landscape. Cutting these back is vastly different. Firstly you should use …read more