As often happens, full-time lawn care dudes get asked to do extras, such as pruning. They like the extra cash but it’s a bit scary when you don’t even know what the shrub is. Identification is the first step. In step two you can Google it or go on Facebook to ask your lawn care buddies. That’s what the dude who snapped the picture did. And good for him, he isn’t afraid to ask for help. So let’s help him.
In our BC landscapes we often plant Berberis thunbergii which has the same burgundy color and sports light prickles. They are sharp enough to remind you that peeping into people’s windows is wrong but not stiff enough to draw blood and cause swelling. For that we have Pyracantha.
They also do well in hot weather which is important as July 2023 marks the hottest year on record globally since record keeping started. And they also flower which is a nice bonus; and the fall colors are fine, too. There’s lots to love about Berberis.
The specimen in the picture doesn’t look like it requires pruning. It’s doing its thing sending out shoots and splashing them on all sides. Now if the owners insists on clipping it, do it lightly, especially in summer. I don’t like hot weather pruning because it just increases the stress on plants.
Of course, Berberis is very forgiving. If your shave it hard into a ball it will recover by sending out new shoots. Personally I prefer to keep Berberis shaggy which gives it a softer look. I’m not a fan of tight formal balls.
Even as a Red Seal journeyman horticulturist with years of experience, I find that there is lots always to learn. I like how the lawn care dude went online to ask his buddies for help. Additionally, it’s a good hint for him to learn more about plants. It looks like it might be good for his bottom line.
Because the dude lives in the United States I didn’t offer him a copy of my e-book on the first 100 landscape plants you should know if you live and work in the Pacific Northwest. Check it out on Amazon Canada.
Berberis is a great plant. Use it in your garden if you get a chance.