By Phran Novelli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – What were those things you were supposed to do by the 4th of July, besides clean the grill and buy marshmallows? Well, there are a few garden chores you should hurry up and do, such as pinching back fall-bloomers like asters and mums so they’ll stay compact, and pruning spring-blooming shrubs too.

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That includes azaleas, rhododendrons and lilacs – they should be pruned, if they need it, soon after they bloom and most are finished by now. (If you have rhododendrons that are still blooming, they can be pruned when they finish which will happen shortly).

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The reason not to wait much longer, is that these plants make flowers for next spring during this summer. So if you prune in August or September, you’ll cut off next year’s flowers! It won’t kill the plant, it just won’t be as pretty next spring and you can end up with bare spots where you could have had blooms.

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So, if you want to or need to prune azaleas and other spring bloomers (such as my friend Chris did the other day to keep some branches from scratching her car every time she pulled out of the driveway) the 4th of July isn’t a hard deadline, but it’s a good guideline. So prune them already, or let it go until next year.