Pruning Tips for Effective Landscape Lighting

Updated June 26, 2023

When to prune plants for effective landscape lighting illumination

Effective Landscape Lighting Requires Pruning

Over the years, we’ve installed many beautiful landscape lighting systems for our clients throughout Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington, Halton and the Hamilton region.

Pruning for effective landscape lighting

Often, their attention to beautifying their homes at night is accompanied by gorgeous daytime landscape designs that feature ornamental trees, bushes of various shapes and sizes and colourful flowerbeds.

After all this careful planning, the one thing that surprises us time and again is how often Oakville landscape lighting maintenance can be overlooked by homeowners.

Every now and then, we’ll get a call a year or two after the system installation regarding concerns over lights that should be brighter, misdirected beams or shadow spots that were not a part of the original lighting design. Typically, it’s assumed to be a problem with a fixture, or a bulb that is fading prematurely. The problem often turns out to be overgrown foliage and not the lighting hardware.

Are your gardens getting in the way of their own illumination?

Don’t let your petunias drown out your residential landscape lighting. Prune your plants to match the fixture. There are a few special techniques to keep in mind when it comes to pruning for your landscape lighting. These techniques aren’t difficult, and can be easily incorporated into any gardening practice.

At Nite Time Décor, we want to make sure you get the most out of your outdoor lighting services. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of pruning tips to help you trim back the shrubbery to show off your gorgeous residential landscape lighting.

Why bother pruning?

If you’re one of those homeowners that usually skips pruning in your gardening practice, you may be wondering why pruning is important. The fact is that pruning has several benefits beyond simply providing more room for your landscape lighting.

Healthy Trees and Plants

Prune trees to improve landscape lighting illumination
Prune trees to improve lighting illumination

A good trimming and pruning regimen improves more than just the look of your garden; it’s essential for the health of the plants and trees. Unchecked growth can undermine the core strength of bushes and trees by pulling nutrients away from the base.

This is commonly visible in evergreen bushes, such as junipers, when too much growth in the extremities results in the core becoming dry and weak. Simply trimming overgrown branches and twigs back to just before the bud can keep the plant strong while returning its shape.

Annual and perennial plants that are allowed to grow too wide are not going to be as healthy as those that are trimmed regularly. Think of your plants like you think of your hair. When you trim your hair every 8 weeks, you’re removing the dead hair that has been sucking up all of the nutrients from the roots. In this way, you’re providing your hair the opportunity to grow more rapidly, but with considerably more health and strength.

Plants are the same way. Those old decrepit endings on your plants hog the nutrients from the fresh new sprouts, essentially weakening the whole plant. This creates a cycle where unhealthy branches block out the light from your landscape lighting. Left to hang in unruly tangles, the foliage and blossoms will prevent your lights from bringing safety, security, and aesthetic appeal to your home.

When Should You Prune

To get the best results, you’ll want to prune just before the growing season starts. This is usually best done in early spring, but it depends on the plant and the plant’s individual peak growing season. However, pruning is always best practiced before budding and growth has taken full force, as trimming at this time may only cause damage. Your plant uses up all its energy to grow, and can’t spend any more on repair post-pruning.

Throughout the summer, keep on top of your plant pruning and  your landscaping maintenance . Remove the dead leaves, twigs, and branches from both the plant itself and from the base of the plant. These will harm your garden and get in the way of your landscape lighting.

To keep your plants healthy and to prevent your daytime foliage from fighting with your night time ambience, consider these trimming and pruning facts for your landscape lighting maintenance plan:

How to prune for residential landscape lighting

Many landscape lighting companies use shrubbery and gardens as a way to conceal fixtures. When done properly, this creates a lovely effect. This means, though, that you need to keep up on trimming.

When to prune plants for effective landscape lighting illumination
Prune plants to ensure the landscape lighting illuminates the foliage.

To “thin” the plants, again think of how your hairdresser thins out your hair. You remove strategic areas of your foliage to make the tree appear less weighty. This process also creates more areas through which the illumination from your lighting fixtures will shine.

For larger trees, thinning reduces the amount of weight that the main limbs must bear and allows better light penetration by scaling back the amount of foliage.  If you are going to thin your trees out, keep in mind that older trees shouldn’t be thinned as much as younger trees, as they are weaker with age. Furthermore, only 25% of the foliage and branches should be removed in a single trimming.  In every case, a branch or twig should always be cut just after its collar or base, never grazing to closely to its parent branch.

“Raising”, if you have a number of ground-installed fixtures, your landscape lighting maintenance will include a lot of raising. This involves trimming the low-laying twigs from the base to increase the amount of ground clearance and remove any obstruction from the light.

Finally, keep up on cleaning the plants. This simply involves removing dead, diseased, or weak branches.

To keep your lighting system looking just as great as it did the day it was installed, don’t forget to include the garden flora in your landscape lighting maintenance work.

We can Help Beautify Your Landscape

Illuminate your gardens with Nite Time Décor’s landscape lighting services. We help homeowners in Burlington, Mississauga, Oakville, along with the Halton and Hamilton regions by transforming their homes after dark with architectural outdoor lighting.  Contact us today to receive a complimentary quote.