It is once again time to spray for boring insects that attack flowering dogwood and lilacs. Spraying the trunks in May and June and maybe once more in July will help prevent this problem. It is pretty hard to keep boring insects out of dogwood, but spraying with lindane can help. As always, read the directions on your insecticide.
If you have not started to trim the new growth on your shrubs, you need to get busy. The new growth is beginning to form wood now, and once this occurs, you often have to hand prune rather than use an electric pruners. In addition, if you don’t actually cut back into the wood every couple of years, your shrubs will tend to get larger even with general pruning of the new growth. If you need to keep shrubs clear of windows and walkways, you will need to create a cutting back and pruning plan. Explaining that to you is too difficult via this venue, but there are books to read, and, as always, I would be happy to help anyone who asks.
If you have pines, new growth appears as “candles”. These, too, need to be cut back in order maintain a reasonable size and shape to shorter pines such as mugho pine. You can just trim off the new “candles” before they open up, or, cut into the wood further back here and there. This will not only remove the new growth, but will open up the inside of the shrub so light can stimulate new leaves to develop in the interior of the plant. Of course, this same idea is true for angiosperm shrubs. I cut into the interior of my shrubs periodically throughout the growing season to open them up: not enough to leave gapping holes, but enough to let some light into an otherwise leafless interior. Taller gymnosperms such as junipers also need to have the new growth pruned before it “hardens”. Once again, you need to do this to maintain desired shape and size of the plant.
It is possible to keep your shrubs contained and looking nice without hacking them down. You just have to plan and take your time. The time factor increases as the shrubs increase in size. Most people don’t like this aspect of gardening, but when well done, your home will appear much neater and cleaner, and have a much greater “appearance value”.