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Cutting back Viburnum bodnantense

Hi. We spared this V bodnantense when designing our garden as it's a gathering place for birds. I want to cut it back by ~0.5 - 1m all the way around, so we can see the flowerbed beyond and to create more of a border in front of it. Each of the uprights has its own roots - what's the best method to prune it back and remove the roots as well? Will it take it ok if all of the outer edge is done at once (the shrub seems healthy)? Does anyone have any similar experience? Thanks


  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,878
    it will look really ugly if you just shorten the stems, thin out by removing some stems to ground level.
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Derbyshire but with a Nottinghamshire postcode. Posts: 16,475
    My Mums "garden tidy upper"  prunes hers to a shape. It ruins the flowers for the following year. Like Nutcutlet says, thin it by taking out the thickest stems to as low as you can.  Then take some height out of it.
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 9,876
    edited February 2020
    I do a bit of both with mine.
    I cut a few stems to the ground to encourage new stems to be produced and shorten some other stems in early Spring, and in late summer when the long new growth has stopped I cut all the new growth right back to as far as I can reach so the main framework of the shrub keeps to about 6-7ft high
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • Thanks. Just realised my post could be ambiguous. By cut back 0.5 - 1m, I don't mean the height of stems. I mean I want to increase the depth of the bed in front of it by 0.5 - 1m. So removing the outer VB stems altogether to achieve that. Which I assume means digging out their roots as well (so soil can then be added and other plants planted in the widened bed). I wondered how best to do that - how to remove the stems and roots. Just cut the outer stems to ground level, then dig the stumps and their roots out? Would that work?
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,391
    As nutcutlet says, these are best pruned by removing some of the oldest stems in the centre.
    Viburnums naturally spread by sending up new shoots from the roots as those grow outwards, so the youngest, healthiest part of a large 'patch' like yours are the stems on the outside.
    If there are good strong young stems at the back, then you could leave those in place and cut the oldest wood in the centre right down to the ground, severing and digging out all roots and shoots between those and the lawn. 
    The viburnum will slowly spread forwards again, as time goes by.
    When causing severe damage to roots, there is always a chance that the plant will die of course.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Thank you, that makes sense, I'll give it a go. Thanks for everyone's replies.
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