With the winter weather approaching, many of your softscapes may require some trimming and pruning once they go dormant. However, certain plants and flowers need their foliage to protect them through the winter.

To ensure your perennials have the best chance of surviving the cold season in Macomb, MI, it's important to know when and when not to cut them back. Otherwise, you might end up doing more harm than good to your landscaping beds.

Before you add these services to your fall cleanup list, take a look at these do's and don'ts for fall perennial trimming and pruning in Macomb, Chesterfield, Shelby, and nearby areas of MI.


Do trim back specific perennial species, like daylilies and peonies.

Certain perennials will die back in winter and will benefit most from fall trimming and pruning. Some of the more common plants cut back in the fall include:

  • Daylilies
  • Peonies
  • Hostas
  • Irises

Bright yellow daylily in bloom at a Macomb, MI home.

Fall trimming and pruning protect these perennials during winter dormancy and keep them from overtaking other plants in your landscape bed. The biggest reason for fall trimming is to rejuvenate the plant to encourage newer and fuller growth for the next growing season.

Ongoing light pruning during the year is recommended for most softscapes to keep them looking refreshed, but many perennial shrubs will need a 'hard prune' in the fall. Hard pruning involves cutting a shrub to about 6 to 12 inches from the ground so it can regrow and rejuvenate quickly. This is also referred to as 'renewal pruning,' which is done over three years by removing old and dead limbs for gradual plant rejuvenation.

Hard pruning is a drastic process that not all perennial shrubs can tolerate. Shrubs that will respond well to hard pruning are:

  • Dogwoods
  • Hydrangeas
  • Lilac
  • Honeysuckle

Schedule Fall Trimming


Do trim away all dead or diseased foliage from your perennials.

Dead and diseased foliage should always be removed from fall perennials to discourage fungal growth and prevents other parts of the plant from becoming diseased. It's especially necessary for tree trimming and pruning. Tree branches weakened by disease can break off from heavy snowfall and cause extensive damage to your property.

Trimming and pruning also help plants conserve more energy. With the dead foliage gone, plants can divert their energy into producing new blooms or branches.


Don't cut back all perennial plants!

Pink azaleas in bloom at a Chesterfield, MI property.

Many have debated over which fall perennials need to be trimmed and pruned before winter. The truth is there are several different perennials that don't need to be cut back. In fact, it would probably end up killing them faster.

Besides the species listed above, most perennial tops should be left alone because they offer protection from the cold. Other reasons to leave perennials untouched is that some can add interest to a winter garden and serve as food for birds and other wildlife.

Here is a list of perennials that should not be cut back in the winter:

  • Spring flowering shrubs, like azaleas and forsythia
  • Ornamental fruit trees
  • Bleeding trees, such as maple, birch, and elm trees

Don't trim perennials until after the first hard frost!

It's vital that any fall trimming and pruning is done after the first hard frost. By this time, the perennials will be fully dormant.

Cutting back plants before then can activate dormant buds. The new growth will die almost immediately, but it can also weaken the plant by having the new shoots exposed to the cold.

Call the Trimming Experts


Our experts at Big Lakes Lawncare are trained to know which fall perennials need trimming and pruning!

At Big Lakes Lawncare, we ensure all our team members are knowledgeable in proper landscape care. No matter the season, we provide only the best lawn and landscape services to prepare your plants for the changing weather.

We include trimming and pruning with our fall cleanup services for perennials that require it. Our services are offered to residential and commercial properties located near and around Macomb, Chesterfield, Shelby, and other southeast Michigan areas. Take the guesswork out of your fall landscape care by calling us at (586) 200-0855 today!

Call for Fall Cleanups