A "Rejuvenative" Pruning for an Overgrown Forsythia

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Pruning & Rehabilitating an Overgrown Forsythia Shrub
June 6, 2021.
Pruning & Rehabilitating an Overgrown Forsythia Shrub
June 30, 2020.

There's a drastic before & after. At least, if you're the iconic forsythia that sits in the middle of our mountain view!

I had been doing some research on pruning forsythia, and realized the lanscapers hired by the previous owner had likely been pruning it all wrong for 15 years. Pruning just the tips of the forsythia repeatedly may get you the desired shape for a couple months, but also ends up with the tips of the branches splitting more and more, getting heavier and heavier. Requires more shaping all the time.

Meanwhile, what the forsythia actually wants is to have a handful of its thickest/oldest branches pruned to the ground every year. In our case, we opted for a more rejuvenative pruning, and cut 3/4 of the branches to the ground, after flowering. This gives plenty of light and air for new, younger branches to sprout from the base.

Forsythia, now 3/4 lighter!
All the branches cut off the forsythia
May 1, 2021.

Next year, after flowering, we'll prune the remaining old branches, and then the forsythia will be a whole new plant! We're hoping it'll be smaller and better able to cope with the gale force winds we get. We'll have reduced flowers next year, but hopefully a healthier plant going forward.

Weeding, digging a ditch
Installing landscape edging to make mowing easier
Damp cardboard as a weedblock

I also took the opportunity to spruce up the area underneath the forsythia. This will make it easier for J to mow around it. I weeded and dug up sod, then added compost, cardboard weed block, and some leaf mulch. ...Pretty much what I always do! A modified hugelkultur.

Leaf mold on top as a mulch

A few weeks later, and we already have new branches sprouting at the base! So everything is looking promising!

New branches sprouting already!
June 6, 2021.

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