Pruning your trees and shrubs is a great way to get ready for spring.
It’s about the time of the year when you start getting your lawn and garden ready for warmer weather. Before the trees and shrubs start blossoming, give them a good pruning. Learn about when and how to prune your trees.
When to Start Pruning Trees & Shrubs
Your best bet for a beautiful spring bloom is to prune in the winter. Winter is the dormant part of a tree’s growth. You will want to wait until the coldest part of winter has passed. Pruning during the winter is great for trees and shrubs. There are no leaves to get in your way of pruning. This makes it easier to see how the plant is structured. The trees and shrubs will have more energy reserved for growing new branches and leaves after a good pruning.
There are some trees you won’t want to prune during the winter, though. Some species of trees are prone to oozing sap if they’re pruned in the wrong season. It’s not harmful to the tree, but it can cause a sticky and dirty mess. Steer clear of maple, birch, dogwood, walnut and elm trees. It’s best to prune these trees in the midsummer.
Of course, dead, weak or damaged branches can be removed at any time. Just remember the seasons when serious pruning should be done. If you don’t time your pruning correctly, you’re at the risk of damaging the plant’s growth and possible flower production.
Tree Pruning Tips
Make sure you’re cutting off only what is necessary. You will want to remove dead or dying branches. Also prune out diseased limbs. Cut below the diseased area.
When you’re pruning a tree, start at the top and work downwards. For tall branches, use a pole saw or extendable pruner. Some have a saw and shears on the same tool. If you are doing a major pruning project for a large tree, hire a professional arborist for the job.
If you are shortening a smaller branch, make the cut at a slight angle leaving about ¼ inch space beyond the bud. Make sure it’s a clean and sharp cut. Use a one-hand pruning shears with curved blades, known as secateurs, on young trees. For larger branches, cut off at least 1/3 of the branch to lessen the weight you’ll have to hold up while pruning. Undercut the stub so you don’t rip the tree bark when the remaining stub falls loose.
Finally, cut the tree branch right outside the branch collar. The branch collar is the lumpy area where the branch meets the tree trunk. If you cut into the tree trunk, you will delay the cut wound from sealing properly. If you cut too far away from the trunk, you give insects a way of entering the tree. If you leave a protruding stub, it can lead to infection and rot.
Shrub Pruning Tips
If you are pruning a younger shrub, you’ll want to help the plant grow fuller. Use a hand pruner to trim unbranched long stems, above the healthy bud. Whichever direction you trim the bud tip, that’s the way the new branch will grow. Do this type of pruning during the appropriate season.
As your shrub continues to grow, cut old or damaged branches when they grow together with another branch. This allows the interior part of the shrub to get more sunlight, which helps the growth and health of the plant.