Ivydene Gardens Private Garden Maintenance:
Create a Plant Maintenance Plan

Glossary for Page

Pruning Removing dead or unwanted shoots or branches from a plant. Pruning can encourage more and vigorous growth in the plant.


Topiary The art of clipping and training trees and shrubs into various, usually intricate, geometric or free shapes.


Deciduous Of plants that shed leaves at the end of the growing season and renew them at the beginning of the next: semi-deciduous plants lose only some of their leaves at the end of the growing season.


Evergreen Of plants that retain their foliage for more than one growing season; semi-evergreen plants retain only a small proportion of their leaves for more than one season.

Maintenance Plan

autumnal maple pictureAfter either you have planted a new garden with its planting plan and list of existing and new plants, or you have just created the existing plant list you created from your existing garden 'soft plan', then you need to draw up a maintenance plan. The maintenance plan for each plant should be established within the first year of planting.

The maintenance plan should include the full name of the tree or plant, the type and extent of the pruning to be undertaken, the best season for pruning (on the Plant Pruning Page of the Plants Section), any necessary feeding or mulching and any deadheading of flowers required. If you do not know the name, then you may be able to identify it from the photographs in the A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants in the Plant Species section of the Library or from the Comparison Pages on the Plant Photographic Galleries.

However, when pruning and shaping any individual tree or shrub, do not forget that it is to integrate with those plants around it. Please do not ‘haircut’ your shrubs, unless you are into topiary. Pruning is not the same as a quick trim, and does a lot more than keeping a shrub in a particular shape.


Pruning Guide

Pruning needs an effective pair of secateurs and loppers to make clean cuts, and aims to renew the deciduous shrub growth above ground bit by bit, over three or four years.

Find the following data on the shrub plant you want to prune:

  • Flowering period? i.e. June to October
  • Evergreen or Deciduous
  • Attractive fruit or berries?

The first pruning cuts should always aim at removing dead, damaged and diseased shoots, starting from the base of the plant.

Then remove any crossing branches and recreate a balanced natural shape (If the natural shape is horizontal branches, then remove the vertical branch that is crossing it).

If possible, remove a quarter of the oldest main branches/trunks of deciduous shrubs each year to create a 1, 2, 3 and 4 year old main branch system.

Having done this you are now ready to execute the instructions given in the following Group to which the plant belongs.


Group 1

Spring-flowering, deciduous and evergreen shrubs (flower up to June) i.e. Forsythia, Ribes, Cytisus, Rambling and Climbing Roses, some Clematis, Mahonia, Rhododendron and Erica x darleyensis.

  • Prune immediately after the flowers have faded.
  • Shorten the stems which have carried flowers.
  • Most evergreens are best left unpruned, so limit it to periodic thinning.

Group 2

Summer-flowering deciduous and evergreen shrubs (flower from June onwards) i.e. Potentilla, Weigelia, Roses (except Ramblers and Climbers), some Hypericum, Cistus, Calluna, Erica cinerea, Erica tetralix, Erica vagans, Rosmarinus and Thymus.

  • Prune in February—March, just before new growth commences.
  • Cut back some of the older shoots that carry little in the way of new growth to encourage vigour. Cut to an outward facing bud, and cut at an angle to let the rain drain off.
  • Trim back some of the remaining shoots.
  • Most evergreens are again in this group, so only periodic thinning.

Group 3

Spring or summer-flowering shrubs that bear berries or attractive fruits (deciduous or evergreen).

  • Plant these shrubs at an adequate spacing to prevent the need for excessive pruning, but some renewal will be needed to maintain flower bearing wood. It is generally best done immediately after flowering by thinning out weak or overcrowded shoots.
  • Do not leave pruning until major ‘surgery’ is required. Little and often is best.
  • Prune most deciduous trees during the winter, except the Prunus family ( Cherry, Greengage or Plum) which are pruned after their fruit has been picked to prevent Silver Leaf Curl.

More detailed information may be obtained from "The Pruning of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers" by George E. Brown in the Gardening section of the Library.


Key Messages


  • Mulch with grass mowings, prunings from plants and compost from vegetable/tea/coffee kitchen waste together with herbaceous material onto the plant beds to feed the plants and condition the soil.
  • Irrigate regularly new plantings for a minimum of the first two years.
  • Do not ‘haircut’ your shrubs, but use the above pruning procedure to extend their life and keep them vibrant.
  • Use green twine, not wire or plastic ties, to tie plants if you do not want to strangle your plants.


A rose hedge can be created by untangling the rose and tying it to the next one reasonably horizontally. You may like to exceed creating 12 feet of rose hedge a day!!


Maintenance Humour

After every flight, pilots fill out a gripe sheet which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft:-

Pilot: Dead bugs on windshield.

Engineers: Live bugs on back-order.


Pilot: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.

Engineers: Evidence removed. 

Pilot: DME volume unbelievably loud.

Engineers: DME volume set to more believable level.


Pilot: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.

Engineers: That's what friction locks are for.


Pilot: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.

Engineers: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.


Pilot: Suspected crack in windshield.

Engineers: Suspect you're right.


Pilot: Number 3 engine missing.

Engineers: Engine found on right wing after brief search.


Pilot: Aircraft handles funny.

Engineers: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be serious.


Pilot: Target radar hums.

Engineers: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.


Pilot: Mouse in cockpit.

Engineers: Cat installed.


Pilot: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.

Engineers: Took hammer away from midget



Now onwards to weed, prune and mulch your plants,





before having a well-earned rest!!
(from National Geographic's best photos for 2010)


A minor point to remember is the following penalties from Tree Preservation Orders: A guide to the Law and Good Practice:-


9.13 Anyone who cuts down, uproots, tops, lops, wilfully destroys or wilfully damages a tree in a conservation area without giving a section 211 notice (or otherwise in contravention of section 211) is guilty of an offence. The same penalties as those for contravening a TPO apply (see Chapter 10 of this Guide). For example, anyone who cuts down a tree in a conservation area without giving a section 211 notice is liable, if convicted in the Magistrates' Court, to a fine of up to £20,000. Anyone who carries out work in a way that is not likely to destroy the tree is liable to a fine in the Magistrates' Court of up to £2,500.

Replacement Of Trees: Enforcement

9.14 If a tree in a conservation area is removed, uprooted or destroyed in contravention of section 211 the landowner is placed under a duty to plant another tree of an appropriate size and species at the same place as soon as he or she reasonably can. 116 The same duty applies if a tree is removed because it is dead, dying or dangerous or because it is causing a nuisance.117 The duty attaches to subsequent owners of the land, although the LPA have powers to dispense with the duty.118 The LPA may enforce the duty by serving a tree replacement notice under section 207 of the Act (see Chapter 11 of this Guide).

109 See regulation 10.

110 Anyone proposing to cut down a tree in a conservation area on the grounds that it is dead, dying or has become dangerous is advised to give the LPA five days' notice before carrying out the work, except in an emergency.

111 Diameter as measured at 1.5m above ground level. In the case of multi-stemmed trees, the exemption applies only if the diameters of all the stems are less than 75 millimetres or 100 millimetres, as the case may be."

If as the owner you do nothing, there is no problem despite the fact that the main yew tree at St Margerets would rot internally; fall apart and die off. If you prune one leaf off the tree then you can be fined £2500 - if you have not got the neccessary permission from your local authority.

I was handed a sheet stating best practice for trees from the the local Tree Officer from the local council on 20 May 2011. Contained in the first section of that sheet of best practice I read that carpet may be laid round the tree to conserve moisture. The yew tree is at the top of a mound of waste subsoil put there from grave-digging. Most of modern carpet backing is plastic and therefore if that was done, the rain would fall on the carpet and run off it beyond the drip line of the tree, thus dehydrating the ground under it - and thus kill it. Putting the carpet there would also stop the Carbon Cycle and the Nitrogen Cycle and so the tree would die of aphyxiation. Then under enforcement, you would pay £20,000 for killing the tree and have to replace it. Then you can repeat the cycle.....

Do remember to get permission in writing from your local authority tree officer before doing ANYTHING in your conservation area garden each time you want to maintain your garden and a statement that the authority would pay to correct the situation if you followed its permission requirements / best practice; which then damaged anything in your garden.

Before you buy a property in a conservation area, do make sure that under the Replacement of Trees: Enforcement, that you would NOT be liable to replace a tree that was removed by a previous owner without permission - in writing.

In other words, do not buy:-

  • a property in a Conservation Area,
  • one that is a Listed Building or
  • one that has a Tree Preservation Order on a tree inside or just outside your property, since you may find that despite the damage that will be done to your property, that the local council will refuse permission for anything to be done about it.
  • If there is a plant with a trunk greater than 4 inches (10cms) in diameter 40 inches (100cms) above ground, you may well need the same permission to do anything on that plant, so avoid any houses with trees in their gardens or within the ground distance length from a house wall of the neighbouring garden's tree which is the height of that tree - see What to do about Subsidence caused by Clay?


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