The Plant Man


Good Neighbors Use Shears


By Steve Kawaratani.

“On most of the lists of things to worry about (is) the unrestrained growth of plastic plants.”

– with apologies to Lewis Thomas

Have you noticed how much taller and fuller your neighbors’ vegetation have become?  Likely so, because now its blocking the best part of your ocean view.  And quite possibly, your own trees are equally affecting your neighbors’ views of the village.

It is unreasonable to expect plants not to grow, unless they are artificial, and therefore follows that one should prune their landscape on a regular basis.  If left to their own devices, many plants will grow wildly and unrestrained. They might also become a public safety hazard, obstruct neighboring views, and or block sunlight for others.

The object of pruning – cutting or trimming – is to modify plant growth.  But it can also be an act of a good neighbor.

Pruning helps to maintain a plant’s health.  Younger plants may actively grow for a few years, and then become “lazy.”  They lose “interest” in being vigorous.  To keep plants “young”, the removal of older stems directs the plant to produce new stems and leaves.  A simple and open structure allows sunlight and air to reach all of the leaves; a necessity for continued good appearance and new growth.

Neglected or poorly pruned plants can be restored and or rejuvenated by selective trimming.  When a gardener makes a plant more attractive by pruning, he or she are practicing the art of proper cuts and thinning.  Overgrown plants, which block ocean, hillside, or canyon views, can be transformed or reduced in size to restore magnificent vistas for an entire neighborhood (and avoid prosecution for a hedge height violation, but that’s another story).

Finally, skillful pruning can increase the quality and yield of fruit and flowers.  Many plants, like roses and deciduous fruit trees require care to be shapely and are dependent on knowledgeable pruning to produce beautiful flowers and bountiful fruit.

Pruning, like any gardening or landscaping activity, requires a little knowledge and a willingness to experiment.  This is seldom garnered through horticultural lexicons, but rather through experience, both good and bad.  Plants do grow back.

Wishing you an unobstructed view and privacy for everyone this weekend and beyond.  Oh… maybe a little less traffic downtown, too.  See you next time.

Steve Kawaratani is a 60 year resident of Laguna Beach.  He can be contacted at 949.494.5141 or [email protected].

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